Expansion Seattle Kraken name Dave Hakstol first head coach in team history

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 03:  Assistant Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs Dave Hakstol watches a play develop on the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 3, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
After stints with the Flyers and Maple Leafs, Dave Hakstol has another chance to make an impact at the NHL level with the expansion Kraken. (Getty)

He wasn't the public's first choice, but he is for the Seattle Kraken.

The NHL's 32nd franchise, which will select its inaugural roster in under a month, hired its first head coach on Thursday, appointing Dave Hakstol to the position.

Hakstol comes from the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he's served as an assistant coach under both current bench boss Sheldon Keefe and former head man Mike Babcock. Before that, he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers for three-plus seasons, amassing a 134-101-42 overall record before being let go 31 games into his fourth season. 

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Hakstol has never been part of an NHL franchise which has achieved any reasonable level of success, as each team he's been part of has failed to advance beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, he achieved tremendous accolades coaching at his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, leading the program to seven Frozen Four appearances and capturing eight national coach of the year nominations.

Most recently, Hakstol has ran the defensive side of things for the Maple Leafs. Toronto hasn't been a marvel from a defensive perspective by any means under his watch, but the club did rank fifth in shot suppression this past season, while conceding goals at one of the more efficient rates in the NHL. 

How much that has to do with Hakstol is really anyone's estimated guess, but Seattle GM Ron Francis is clearly of the mind that Hakstol's best work at the NHL level is still to come, and that the extent of his abilities has yet to be untapped. 

Becoming the first NCAA coach in 33 years to make the jump to a head coaching position in the NHL when the Flyers hired him in 2015, Hakstol has paved the way for several other hockey minds from the college ranks. Most notably, Jim Montgomery and David Quinn surfaced in the NHL with the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, respectively, though both have not worked out, and are no longer with the organizations. 

Seattle is said to have exhausted its resources searching for its first head coach, interviewing names like Rick Tocchet, while also considering an option with direct expansion experience in Gerard Gallant, before landing on Hakstol. 

With Hakstol in the fold, the Kraken will conduct its expansion draft on July 21 before kicking off their inaugural season in the fall. 

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