Dave Hakstol Could Be Responsible for Seattle Kraken’s Struggles

The Seattle Kraken will be held on June 24, 2021 They have completed their coaching searchDave Hakstol was their first hire. Rumours circulated that several names were considered frontrunners for this job, including Gerard Gallant (now with New York Rangers), Rick Tocchet (now with Vancouver Canucks), and Bruce Boudreau. Hakstol was a surprising choice; his name didn’t come up often before he was hired and given his mediocre results with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2015 to 2018 (two first-round exits and a playoff miss in three seasons).

Close to the season’s halfway point, the Kraken have played poorly, and they rank 29th in the league. The problem may not be limited to goaltending, as the coaches might also be a factor.

Background about Hakstol

Hakstol was fired from the Toronto Maple Leafs where he had served as an assistant coach for nearly two years. Toronto hired him to be part of Mike Babcock’s staff, but Babcock was fired just months later, leaving Hakstol to spend almost two full seasons under new head coach Sheldon Keefe. The Maple Leafs were eliminated in the first round twice during those two seasons.

Hakstol, who was the coach of the Flyers between 2015 and 2018, was the one who made Toronto his home. First coach since 1982To jump from the NCAA into the NHL. He was a successful 11-year veteran of the University of North Dakota. He reached the Frozen Four seven of the eleven seasons. He was also a finalist in the national coach award eight times.

Dave Hakstol (head coach, Seattle Kraken)Amy IrvinThe Hockey Writers

During Hakstol’s time in Philadelphia, the Flyers posted a 134-101-42 record, and notably, during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, the Flyers became the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs despite a 10-game winning streak and then make the playoffs the following season despite a 10-game losing streak. After a start of 12-15-4 to the 2018-19 season, Hakstol was fired.

Kraken Coaching Blunders

In their inaugural season, the Kraken faced many issues. Many were caused by poor coaching decisions. Going into the season, offense was expected to be the roster’s main concern, but it’s been worse than expected. In terms of expected goals-for-per-60 (xGF/60), Seattle is the third-lowest league team. Hockey: A New EraTheir ability to score is limited. Much of the Kraken’s offense revolves around point shots, a strategy that leads to very few net-front scoring chances, and point shots are simply not conducive to a successful offense in the NHL.

Relying too heavily upon one goaltender is the second problem. Philipp Grubauer’s struggles are no secret, as the high-paid starting netminder has been the worst goalie in the league by almost every measure. He finished third in Vezina Trophy voting last season with 40 starts. This is a career high. He has started 24 games this season and is On pace to begin almost 60. While Grubauer’s poor play largely falls on himself, Hakstol should not be pushing him so hard, especially with a solid backup in Chris Driedger. 

Related: Kraken have 3 Options for Right-Shot Defenseman

Finally, Hakstol’s deployment has been curious. The Kraken’s Forward lines are jumbledPlayers were moving up and down the line, and skilled skaters like Jared McCann (or Morgan Geekie) were being moved between center and wings throughout the season. Some of the team’s younger, less experienced players, like Kole Lind and Alexander True, have been relegated to fourth-line duty or the press box without a fair shot, a curious choice for a losing team. The priority for an expansion team should be to build chemistry. Even months into the season, players are still struggling to find chemistry. Hakstol has not done much to address this.

I don’t advocate for a coaching transition. Even if I thought it was the correct course of action, it’s unrealistic for an expansion team to fire a coach this early. However, serious changes need to be made to improve the team’s play and place in the standings, and that starts with adjustments from their head coach.

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