The Seattle Kraken after falling a game short of the Western Conference Finals, fired their first head coach Dave Hakstol yesterday.

The team also said assistant coach Paul McFarland will not return next season.

In a morose tempered press conference General Manager Ron Francis spoke to the media and said about the firing.

It’s really difficult I mean, I think he was a good coach when we hired him. I still think he’s a good coach. He’s a terrific person. There’s a lot of sacrifice that goes in, not only by him, but by his wife and his family. And, you know, it’s never easy to make a decision like this and tell somebody that you’re relieving them of their duty. So, it’s a extremely sad day in that regard. – Kraken General Manager Ron Francis

Francis went on to highlight inconsistencies and multiple losing streaks as a reason for a change as an implication for the difficult choice to fire Hakstol.

The Kraken ranked fourth worst in the NHL in scoring this past season and encountered multiple losing streaks that casted a cloud on their conference semifinal run in 2023.
Seattle struggled out of the gate, winning five of their first nineteen games, with struggles that only continued primarily in November.

The Kraken went on an eight-game losing streak that spanned into December.
Seattle would find their stride immediately, earning at least one point in the standings for thirteen consecutive games, highlighted by a shutout victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2024 NHL Winter Classic.

The problem posed by the Kraken however, was their inconsistency. After their thirteen-game point streak, Seattle followed up by losing eight of their next ten games, and then winning five of their next seven games, only to lose four straight including the home finale against the last place San Jose Sharks.

Hakstol finishes his tenure with Seattle with a record of 107-112-27.

A Jack Adams Award (Best Coach) finalist last season, Hakstol concludes his second head coaching stint in the NHL after leading the Philadelphia Flyers from 2015-18.

The question arises of who may replace Hakstol, and GM Ron Francis said yesterday the search is well under way.
As far as a timetable, Francis alluded to having an idea of the organization’s direction more concrete in a matter of a few months.

The search for the next bench leader for the Kraken leads to plenty of possibilities. The first name to come to mind is Dan Bylsma.

Bylsma, a Stanley Cup winning coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is the head coach for the Kraken’s AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley Firebirds. The Firebirds had the best Western Conference record in the regular season this year and have hopes of returning to the Calder Cup Championship after losing in overtime in game seven in the final in their first year of existence.

Another potential candidate is Todd McClellan who is known for making the San Jose Sharks a Western Conference powerhouse in the 2010s.

The most intriguing potential coach is Rod Brind’amour. Brind’amour is in his sixth year coaching the Carolina Hurricanes, and has coached Carolina to three division titles, and has taken the Hurricanes to the conference finals twice during his tenure. With Carolina still in the playoffs, the intrigue behind Brind’amour is that his contract with Carolina expires at the end of the year. Kraken General Manager Ron Francis was teammates with Brind’amour when they played for the Hurricanes.

Whoever takes over for Coach Hakstol will need to appease an organization focused on winning and winning now.

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