Kraken fire Hakstol after Year 3 dive, playoff miss

Kraken fire Hakstol after Year 3 dive, playoff miss

The Seattle Kraken have fired head coach Dave Hakstol after three seasons, the team announced Monday.

Hakstol, who was the first coach in the Kraken’s short history, was dismissed after the team failed to make the playoffs after finishing with 100 points and advancing to the Western Conference semifinals last season.

The club on Monday also announced that assistant coach Paul McFarland would not return next season.

“I thank Dave for his hard work and dedication to the Kraken franchise,” general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “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.

“Dave is a good coach and a terrific person. We wish him and his family all the best. We will begin our search for the Kraken’s next head coach immediately.”

Francis had hinted that changes could be made less than a week after the season ended.

Hakstol, who went 107-112-27 with the franchise, becomes the second NHL coach to be fired this offseason after the San Jose Sharks moved on from David Quinn last week.

There were questions about the Kraken’s decision in June 2021 to hire Hakstol, the former Philadelphia Flyers coach who had been an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those questions remained during Seattle’s inaugural season, when the team went 27-49-6 and won the fourth pick in the NHL draft lottery, which was used on Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright, who at one time was projected to go first in his draft class.

Hakstol’s second season drew more praise than criticism. The Kraken became arguably the league’s biggest surprise, winning 46 games and reaching the 100-point mark — a turnaround of 40 points from the previous season — before advancing to the conference semifinal round and losing to the Dallas Stars.

It also led to Hakstol being one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the head coach that has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” He also was rewarded with an extension through the 2025-26 season.

“We had a real good season last year, went probably better than we expected and our staff did a good job and they got rewarded for it,” Francis said. “This season didn’t go as well as we had hoped and then you got to look at things and try and make decisions at the end of the season. That’s where we ended up at this point.”

Part of the Kraken’s success stemmed from finishing second in team shooting percentage — with a success rate of 11.6% — and tying for fourth in goals per game.

Questions again surfaced after Seattle opened this season with four straight losses before another eight-game slide from late November into early December, but the club went on a 13-game points streak that saw them win nine in a row, including a win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in the Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park on New Year’s Day.

The offense, which buoyed them with consistency in 2022-23, led to them capsizing in 2023-24 — the Kraken went 13-16-3 after the All-Star break — as they finished 18th on the power play and 29th in both shooting percentage and goals scored.

Ultimately, those offensive struggles — along with a run of inconsistent performances — led to the Kraken finishing 34-35-13 and 17 points behind the Golden Knights for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.