Despite a list of potential head coach candidates that included big names like Mike Babcock and Todd McLellan, the Flyers have hired Dave Hakstol. This has definitely left some of us with the response of, “Who?.”
Apparently, there is a reason to be optimistic.
Hakstol comes to the Flyers organization with a winning record of 289-143-43 after 11 seasons behind the bench at the University of North Dakota. Seven of those seasons resulted in a Frozen Four appearances. Last season, the Fighting Sioux went 29-10-3.
The 46-year-old has spent most of his hockey career in North Dakota, having played there from 1989 to 1992. He became an assistant coach with the club in 2000 and eventually took over as head coach in 2004.
There is a connection between Hakstol and GM Ron Hextall that could make sense of this hiring. Hextall’s son, Brett, who currently plays for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, played under Hakstol in North Dakota. He has seen Hakstol’s winning ways and being that Brett plays within the Flyers’ farm system, he could have lobbied for his former coach.
A fresh face with a knack for winning could be good for the Flyers. Hakstol has not yet coached at the NHL level and does not have any former ties to the Flyers. With so many of the front office and coaching staff being former players of the orange and black, it is good to have someone with an outside perspective that can rejuvenate the culture in the locker room.
The Flyers are taking the same approach the Eagles have with Chip Kelly, bringing in a top college coach who is younger and could infuse some new life into the team. If Hakstol can continue his success in the NHL, he will be popular in Philadelphia.