The Seattle Kraken inaugural season is rapidly approaching, and with the expansion draft and first-year player entry draft at the end of this month the team has hired its first head coach and two assistant coaches.
General manager Ron Francis tapped former Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to be the franchise’s first bench boss and his first two assistants, Paul McFarland and Jay Leach, were announced Tuesday.
Hakstol, 52, guided the Flyers for three and a half seasons and finished with a 134-101-42 record, qualifying for the playoffs twice. It was his first head coaching gig in the NHL after over a decade in the NCAA ranks as head coach of the University of North Dakota, where his teams qualified for the Frozen Four seven times.
Hakstol spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It is an honor to be the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken,” Hakstol said. “I am honored to be joining this tremendous group of staff and fans. When I first saw the arena, I was blown away – it is such a unique venue. I am looking forward to being a part of the group that builds a team that plays with pride, passion and selflessness for the city of Seattle.”
Leach, 41, had a long professional career as a defenseman, mostly in the minor leagues in the New Jersey Devils farm system. He was captain of their American Hockey League affiliate and played 70 games in the NHL before retiring in 2013.
He has spent the past four seasons as head coach of the Boston Bruins’ successful AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Leach will coach Seattle’s defensemen.
“From the ownership group to Ron Francis to Dave Hakstol, it is truly an incredible opportunity to work with them. I’m looking forward to the expansion draft, free agency and training camp as we start to see the team come to fruition,” Leach said.
McFarland, 35, will handle the forwards and the power play. He comes to Seattle from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, one of three junior leagues in the Canadian Hockey League. McFarland has also previously been an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs, where he worked with Hakstol. He also spent two years as an assistant with the Florida Panthers.
“It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I look forward to working with Dave again, the rest of our staff, and our players,” McFarland said.