Will Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol make it to their fourth season?

Apr 19, 2024, 11:52 AM

NHL Seattle Kraken Dave Hakstol...

Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol coaches in his 500th NHL game on Feb. 29, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The third NHL season for head coach Dave Hakstol’s Seattle Kraken is in the books, and it’s hard to call it anything other than disappointment.

Thursday: Seattle Kraken outlast Wild 4-3 to end third season in NHL

The Kraken were a surprise postseason team in 2022-23, and they didn’t simply just reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They won a first-round series over the 2021-22 champion Colorado Avalanche, then took the Dallas Stars to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals. But in 2023-24, the Kraken took a step backwards, finishing sixth in the eight-team Pacific Division with a 34-35-13 record for 81 points in the standings.

The status of Hakstol is now a big storyline for the offseason. He owns a 107-112-27 record with Seattle, which is of course weighed down by the team’s expansion season (27-49-6) in 2021-22. Prior to his time with the Kraken, he went 134-101-42 as Philadelphia Flyers head coach from 2015-19.

Has he done enough for general manager Ron Francis to give him a fourth season at the helm?

Jon Morosi, who serves as an NHL Network broadcaster in addition to his MLB insider duties, weighed in Thursday during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“I think it’s still up in the air. Obviously the Kraken have not come out and said one way or the other,” Morosi told hosts Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton. “It’s clear to me that that there need to be some adjustments to the roster, the way they do things.”

The Kraken have an exciting, young cornerstone player in Matty Beniers, but in perhaps a microcosm of the team overall, his performance as a second-year player season did not come with the step forward that many expected to see. He had 15 goals and 37 points in 2023-24, dipping down from 24 goals and 57 points during his Calder Memorial Trophy-winning rookie season.

“It was not, by the end of the year, a great, exciting product,” Morosi said of the Kraken. “So either you’ve got to make some adjustments to the roster, which could be expensive, or you adjust the coaching staff and systems and the way that you do things.”

Morosi said the Seattle Kraken are at a “very unique point” as a franchise.

“I do think that you’re now at a spot where (you have had) the newness of the franchise and the building (Climate Pledge Arena) and the excitement – you go to the playoffs last year and have a pretty good run – but eventually the quality of the product needs to be what sells the experience and the franchise,” he said. “I think we would all look at this team and say they were not one of the more exciting teams in the National Hockey League this year, and whether it’s going to the collegiate ranks for a coach or just looking for others that have earned the opportunity, I think that’s what Kraken management has to look at.

“Is the coach the issue, or is the personnel the issue? And generally speaking, coaches are easier to hire and fire than entire teams, and so we typically just know how that tends to work.”

Morosi said if the Kraken know that Hakstol will be on the hot seat at the start of next season, it’s probably best they make a change now.

“We saw a number of teams make (coaching) changes in-season this year,” he said. “I’ve always felt that if you want to fully change the culture and if you feel as though you need to do that in a wholesale way, and if you are going to let a coach go at the first sign of trouble next year, just make the change now. Because if you need somebody to come in with a new culture, that takes a long time to develop. And if you get off to a poor start (where) the first time you lose three in a row then you make a change, then you’ve basically lost next year, too, and I don’t like that. If they believe they’ve got to make a change, make it now.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with MLB and NHL insider Jon Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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