Dave Hackstol Named First Head Coach of the Seattle Kraken

The NHL's newest expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, named Dave Hackstol as their first head coach on Thursday.

"Dave Hakstol makes franchise history, named Kraken head coach on June 24, 2021. Joins NHL's 32nd team after deep search by GM Ron Francis, who sought leader with NHL head coach experience, plus emphatically checks boxes for leadership, character and player development," the Seattle Kraken said in a statement on their website.

"We are so proud of the momentum built for this franchise to launch. From an incredible fan base came a brilliant arena, a world-class training center and an agreement by a Hall-of-Famer to become our GM," Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said in the statement. "And today is another major step forward. On behalf of David Bonderman and our entire ownership group, we welcome Dave Hakstol to Seattle and to the Seattle Kraken."

Hackstol previously served as the Toronto Maple Leafs' assistant coach from 2019 to 2021. He also was the Philadelphia Flyers' head coach for three and a half seasons, where he reached the postseason in two separate years.

When Hackstol was hired by the Flyers in 2015, he became the third coach to go from coaching NCAA Division I hockey to the NHL in 33 years. Hackstol coached the University of North Dakota from 2004 to 2015. During his time as a college coach, Hackstol led the men's hockey team to 11 straight NCAA tournaments and seven Frozen Fours overall.

"Tracking back to University of North Dakota days, Dave is a coach who cares about his players. At times, a coach's messages can get diluted. Players want to understand what the coach wants them to do. Dave communicates clearly and concisely. Players like that," Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis said.

According to ESPN, during Hackstol's time as the University of North Dakota coach, 30 of his players went on to play in the NHL, including two former Stanley Cup champions, Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and TJ Oshie of the Washington Capitals.

"It's really exciting for me and my family," Hackstol said after arriving in Seattle. "I have paid attention to what's happening here, how the organization is coming together with Tod [Leiweke] and Ron. What ownership has been able to do is nothing short of spectacular."

In July 2020, the Kraken became the NHL's 32nd franchise, following the Las Vegas Golden Knights as the league's most recent expansion team. On July 21, the Kraken are set to fill out their roster in the NHL's expansion draft and will follow the same draft rules that the Golden Knights did in 2017.

Seattle Kraken
The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL's newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Jim Bennett/Getty