Dave Hakstol’s Future With Seattle Kraken Comes to an End

Seattle Kraken Head Coach Dave Hakstol
Photo via Kraken Canada on X

After an unsuccessful year for the Seattle Kraken, General Manager Ron Francis announced today that the franchise has relieved head coach Dave Hakstol and assistant coach Paul McFarland of their duties. However, this decision is not particularly surprising. 

During his end-of-season interview on April 22, Francis was asked about Hakstol’s status but refused to give a direct answer, which left many questioning whether Hakstol would return with the Kraken next season. Just days later, Francis made a statement, though it was clear it wasn’t one he wanted to make.

“I thank Dave for his hard work and dedication to the Kraken franchise,” said Francis. “Following our end-of-the-season review, we have decided to make a change at our head coach position. These decisions are never easy, but we feel that this is a necessary step to help ensure our team continues to improve and evolve.”

Hakstol was named the Seattle Krakens’ first head coach in franchise history in June 2021 and led the Kraken to a 107-112-27 record in their first three seasons. The second year of the franchise was the most surprising by far when Hakstol helped the team reach the 100-point mark, leading them to the semifinals in the playoffs. Additionally, the Kraken were second in shooting percentage with a success rate of 11.6% and tied for fourth place in goals per game. 

Oliver Bjorkstrand of Seattle Kraken
Photo via Seattle Kraken on X

Unfortunately, the Kraken fell short in their 2023-24 season, ultimately costing Hakstol his job. The team started the season with four straight losses, then suffered from an eight-game losing streak from late November to early December and faced a handful of injuries, significantly impacting the team’s chemistry. 

“We’re looking at our organization, and just looking at this season, I thought we were a little more inconsistent than we have been. [We had] too many losing streaks and losing streaks of significant numbers, so I felt it was time to try a new voice.”

Though outsiders had previously speculated that the decision had been made the second the season was over, Francis explained that a lot of evaluating took place, and the decision wasn’t final until Sunday night.

When asked about a timeline, Francis stated there “isn’t a definite timeline.” Still, they will begin the process of looking to hire someone immediately. This has left people with theories about who will become the next head coach and where Hakstol will go. 

Some believe the Seattle Kraken will be looking at their AHL affiliate team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, head coach Dan Bylsma, who has been with them since their first season in 2022. Bylsma has had a successful season with the Firebirds this year, landing them a spot in the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs. He also has eight years of NHL head coach experience and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2009. 

With Dave Hakstol and Paul McFarland no longer with the franchise, the Kraken will prepare for big changes. Despite a rough season, GM Ron Francis is determined to get the team back on track for the 2024-25 season. This off-season will undoubtedly be one to follow for the Seattle Kraken

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