BROCK AND SALK

Who the Kraken could hire as coach to replace Dave Hakstol

Apr 30, 2024, 2:07 PM

Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol...

Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol during game at Chicago on Nov. 28, 2023. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

After leading the franchise in its inaugural three seasons, Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol was let go Monday. Now the team is looking for its second-ever coach with hopes of recapturing the buzz created by their 2022-23 Stanley Cup playoffs run.

Seattle Kraken fire head coach Dave Hakstol after three seasons

The Kraken failed to build off a successful second season and regressed to a 34-35-13 record with 81 points, which was 12 less wins and 19 fewer points than the previous campaign. The player the franchise hopes to build around, Matty Beniers, also saw a major drop in scoring production a season after winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

So what’s next for the Kraken? Brock Huard and Mike Salk discussed what went wrong and who the next coach in Seattle could be Tuesday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. One thing neither had seen in the Kraken under Hakstol was a true identity.

“They’re not a high-flying finesse team, they’re not a tight-checking physical team. They don’t seem to have much of (an identity),” Salk said. “I think they’re missing toughness and grit, they’re missing some just sort of heart and energy. … Some of that is built into identity, but some of it is just built into energy. I don’t wanna say effort because I would never want to question anybody’s effort, but they’ve never played with a tremendous amount of life and energy.”

Salk believes some of that could have come from Hakstol.

“Teams do tend to take on some of the personality of their head coach,” Salk continued, “and in this case their head coach – while clearly a smart guy and a passionate guy – is very reserved, very buttoned up, close to the vest. Hakstol did not exactly inspire a tremendous amount of energy, and I’d like to see somebody that does. Not just for the team but for the fanbase.”

The next Seattle Kraken coach

So who are the top candidates to replace Hakstol? Salk pointed to Dan Bylsma, the head coach of the Kraken’s AHL affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds, and Rod Brind’Amour, the head coach of a Carolina Hurricanes team that is currently in the playoffs and closing in on a series win in the first round.

Bylsma, 53, appeared in nine NHL seasons as a player and has eight years of experience as an NHL head coach under his belt. He led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup championship in his first season as a coach and playoff appearances in all six seasons with the team. He later spent two years guiding the Buffalo Sabres.

Bylsma was named coach of the Firebirds for their inaugural season in 2022-23 and has taken the team to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, including winning the Western Conference title and reaching the Calder Cup finals last year.

Brind’Amour was a 20-year NHL veteran and spent 10 of those seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes franchise he currently coaches. He took over as Carolina’s head coach in 2018-19, and the team had reached the playoffs in all six seasons since, including a run of three straight division titles from 2021-23. Brind’Amour played four-plus seasons with Kraken general manager Ron Francis in Carolina.

“Those are probably the two biggest names you’ll hear, and we’ll see what direction they go,” Salk said. “If I’m (Kraken co-owner and chief executive of operations) Tod Leiweke, I want to think real hard about making sure this gets done right, that you are finding a way to appease, energize and get your fan base invested in what’s going on, and give them a reason for some hope that this season essentially took away. So yes, I think Dan Bylsma might be a very good choice. Ron Brind’Amour would be, I don’t know if I’d be as excited about that one, but I would understand it.”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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