Dave Hakstol is the new Flyers coach. Ron Hextall, in the introductory press conference, described his “tireless work ethic” and “extremely high-level” knowledge of the game. But what else do we know about Hakstol and the way he coaches beyond GM speak about the guy who was just given one of the most high-profile jobs in hockey?
But the #FireHakstol hashtag has been pretty active over the years. Here’s an example:
In his eleven years at the University of North Dakota, Hakstol’s teams have never posted a winning percentage lower than .605, and though he led his team to the NCAA Frozen Four seven times, they only advanced to the Finals once.
College Hockey writer Chris Dilks told Broad Street Hockey what they need to know about Hakstol:
Hakstol has a reputation as a very intense, super-serious guy. It’s very, very rare to ever see him crack a smile. His teams play a tough, very physical style of hockey. Offensively, he wants his guys to get the puck to the net from anywhere and then grind out rebounds, tips, etc.
He had a ton of success at North Dakota, but with the money and facilities they have, they’re also getting the cream of the crop in terms of talent. There was some frustration in Grand Forks from fans that he was never able to win a national title, but a lot of it was that the NCAA’s goofy playoff system. It’s so rare to see a coach go from the NCAA to an NHL head job, so I really have no idea how he’ll do. I think he’s a pretty good coach, but so is everyone else at that level.
And for all of that #FireHakstol stuff, Broad Street Hockey explains it like this: “North Dakota fans are the New England Patriots fans of NCAA hockey. They are insufferable and think that nothing short of a title is what they, the truest of the true college hockey fan, deserves.”
Back to the press conference: Hextall said Hakstol was the number one target all along, that he “gets the most out of his players,” and that his lack of pro experience is the only box he didn’t check with Hakstol’s hiring [editor’s note: I suppose that box is pretty large].
Howard Eskin asked Hakstol what he thinks his adjustment has to be to coach pro players. “I believe in what we do and I believe in the things that I do and I’m not gonna change that,” Hakstol replied. “I’m not gonna pretend that I do [have experience at this level], but … one of the most important things is communicating with and getting to know these players.”
When asked about choosing a rookie coach, Hextall said he’d take a guy who has been a head coach in college for 11 years over an NHL assistant every time. Hakstol, when asked about the fan base, the city and media, said, “the history and tradition of this organization” was one of the real exciting things about taking the job.
The most popular question asked of Hextall — more than once, in a few different forms — was how many candidates he interviewed/who else he talked do/what about Babcock/etc. Hextall refused to discuss the process, but said Hakstol is “the right guy.” By going outside of the usual candidates and processes, Hakstol’s hiring puts a lot of pressure on Hextall.
Bernie Lomax Ed Snider pretty much deferred to Hextall on the hire:
It remains to be seen if Hakstol will be a good coach at this level. But it’s immediately obvious that he has great, no nonsense hair:
The Hakstol era begins.