Flyers hire Dave Hakstol as head coach


Flyers hire Dave Hakstol as head coach

After a month-long search, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has found his guy.

The Flyers on Monday named Dave Hakstol from the University of North Dakota as their 19th head coach in franchise history replacing Craig Berube.

Two sources told's Tim Panaccio that the Flyers did not ask to speak with Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, but did interview Todd McLellan at the world championships before hiring Hakstol. 

Hakstol, 46, comes to the Flyers with no NHL experience, but he’s spent the last 11 years coaching at UND, where he coached several NHL players. Among those are Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac and Matt Greene, as well as Hextall’s son, Brett Hextall.

"In watching my son over the years, I grew an appreciation for Dave [and] the way he coached," Hextall said at Monday afternoon's press conference. "I've thought about him long before this as a head coach in the National Hockey League. I believe he was destined for it. He's got a lot of pro qualities. He's got a lot of experience as a head coach."

That said, Hextall admitted of all the candidates he considered, the guy he "need to get to know the most" was Hakstol. The two talked over a four-day span.

"Everything checked out the way we hoped it would check out," Hextall said. "I had a list of things that I wanted from a head coach and went down this checklist in my mind, and every box was checked except for NHL experience. And quite frankly for me, that was the one that was the least important. It's no different from a rookie player or a rookie coach. Does Dave have things to learn? Absolutely. He'll be the first to admit it.

"Every head coach in the NHL at some point is a rookie, right? That's reality. Some of them go through the American League. Some of them don't. Some of them are NHL assistant coaches, and quite frankly, if you said to me, 'You can bring in an NHL assistant coach, you can bring in a guy that's been in college for 11 years as a head coach. I'll take the head coaching experience. That's the valuable part.

"If Dave had never been a head coach — different conversation. But being a head coach, being the guy in charge, making the tough decisions, putting your lines together, the gut feels you have on putting guys out there at the right time — he's got all that experience. Yes, it's at a different level, but that's valuable experience." 

Hakstol leaves North Dakota with a 289-143-43 record in 475 games. Last season, North Dakota made the Frozen Four, but lost to Boston University. North Dakota went 29-10-3 in the regular season last year.

While he's had tremendous success at the college level, Hakstol acknowledged he'll have to make some changes now that he's dealing with NHL players, but he's going to stick with what earned him appearances in the NCAA Tournament during his entire tenure at North Dakota, including seven trips to the Frozen Four.

What's more, his teams have produced 20 NHL players and 46 professionals overall. He coached Chris VandeVelde, who has played 90 games with the Flyers the last two seasons, and Derek Forbort, whom the Kings drafted when Hextall was the assistant general manager in L.A.

"There's going to be several adjustments along the way, but I think No. 1, I believe in what we do and I believe in the things that I do, and I'm not going to change that as I come to this level," Hakstol said. "I think maybe the delivery of the message may be a little bit different. Certainly, the fact that I do not have experience at this level, I'm not going to pretend what I do.

"But I do have an awful lot of confidence in terms of knowing the game well, knowing how to relate and communicate with players — and that's one of the first things as I get started here, and probably one of the most important things as we move through the summer, is communicating with and getting to know a lot of our players, and that's going to start to build the foundation of the plan that we have moving forward."

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 

It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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Flyers' Game 3 in 2010 Stanley Cup Final was the Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Flyers' Game 3 in 2010 Stanley Cup Final was the Best Game I Ever Saw Live

In the spring of 1997, Eric Lindros and company were steamrolled. Swept by the Detroit Red Wings for the first of three Stanley Cup titles in six years for the Motor City.

Fast forward 13 years. The Flyers are back in the Finals facing the same fate after losing the first two games in Chicago.

This Flyers team already completed one of the most improbable comebacks the NHL had ever seen. Down 3-0 to the Bruins in the series and then in Game 7, they shocked the world. The odds of this team completing the historic feat twice in the span of a month? Not great. That made Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final so important. If they are going to win the Cup, they have to win this game.

The night featured everything you love about playoff hockey. A game associated with the bitterness of winter played on a warm evening in June. The arena maxed out with twenty thousand people wearing orange, holding their breath with every scoring chance, every save, then erupting in unison when the goal horn ripped through your ear drums.

60 minutes would not be enough. Five minutes into overtime the fans jumped to their feet, releasing a burst of energy that could be felt down Broad Street. It would turn out to be a practice run for the euphoria to come. Replays of the puck behind goaltender Corey Crawford, sliding perfectly along the goal line, confirmed our worst fears. It’s not over.

The swing of emotions is what makes overtime playoff hockey so unique. The suddenness of it all is unmatched. Which is why none of us were expecting, less than one minute later, the building would shake. No need for a review. No need to regain our composure. Claude Giroux had won Game 3.

It was one of those moments when strangers were now family. Section 212 became my new neighborhood. I looked around to take in the moment, seeing smiles from ear to ear and even a few jubilant tears.

One week later, tears of a different kind were shed after Patrick Kane celebrated by himself on the same sheet of ice. Another Finals loss jumpstarted another dynasty with the Blackhawks claiming three Cups in six years. The hurt of that series loss was equalled only by the exhilaration of Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The best game I ever saw live.