Looking back at this past Flyers’ season, it’s one we could all easily forget. As we gain hope for the future, this team still has a lot of work ahead of them. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. I’m going to talking about the current roster, possible moves, and the draft in what I have as a 3 part series.
However, the Flyers made a splash today announcing their 19th head coach. So we will begin part I of this series with this.
I was driving to the beach this morning while listening to the radio when the news came across that the Flyers are announced their new head coach. As I braced myself, I hoped for Todd McClellen, who was my first choice. I also waited to see if fan favorite and one of the most logical choices would be Mike Babcock. While listening closely, I also hoped that it wasn’t Kevin Dineen, John Tortorella or Peter Deboer. Instead the name David Hakstol was reported over the air. “Who?” I thought to myself. The second I was able to stop, I briefly put off my beach trip to conduct a little research on this Hakstol.
To begin, the Flyers went off the scale with this. Here we have a guy who’s name wasn’t mentioned at all in any reports. (Thanks Flyers’ media for doing your job, *Sarcasm*) It wasn’t Todd McClellen who seemed that would have been a perfect fit for the Flyers given his credentials with young players and getting them to produce. It wasn’t anyone from within the organization or has any ties to the Flyers in any capacity which was a huge relief. But it was a college coach, a college coach who has never coached a professional game in his life. Before I could even attempt to judge I kept an open mind.
Hakstol seems to have quite the record. He’s coached at the University of North Dakota since 2004. He’s leaving behind an impressive record of 289-143-43 with a winning percentage of .654. North Dakota has qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of Hakstol's 11 seasons and reached the Frozen Four seven times. He’s also produced 20 NHL Players which include Jonathan Towes, Matt Green, TJ Oshie and Drew Stafford. Current Flyer Chris VandeVelde also came from Hakstol’s college system. Towes and Green have also gone on to win two Stanley Cups and Towes has won two Olympic Gold Medals as well.
This move also proves that GM Ron Hextall wanted someone who can work well and develop young players. With our farm system stacked with potential young talent waiting to make the jump to the NHL, the Flyers also have a few young players with lots of potential waiting to be tapped. I’m talking about Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. Couturier, had a career season in offensive numbers last season, but the organization wants him to replicate the offensive stud that he was in Juniors. Scott Laughton, who also had very high offensive numbers in Juniors, couldn’t translate that in his first NHL season. Perhaps Hakstol is the guy to tap every ounce of potential from these players.
With his impressive record and professional players developed, he also has quite the record in his college career that isn’t kept in the books. It’s something that Flyers’ fans can appreciate. For one, he was suspended for two games for flipping off a referee. We all disagree with refs game in and game out and most of the time coaches will argue while others just sit and stare, but this guy showed his displeasure. Yes it’s a little immature, but it shows that he’s not going to take any BS and that he fully backs his team. That’s something I like in a head coach. He also has a history of making sure his team is disciplined or he will bench them. That doesn’t mean taking penalties, but playing both ends of the ice and showing sportsmanship.
The Flyers went outside of the box and got the fresh prospective that the fans have been screaming for, for years. However many Flyers fans took to social media today to display their hatred and disagreement with Hextall’s choice of hiring Hakstol. I get it, he wasn’t the big name that we’ve been hoping for. He wasn’t the popular choice nor does he really have the NHL experience to back it up. He’s brand new. He will coach his first professional Hockey game in October.
I for one thought about this all day and have come to the conclusion that this isn’t a bad move. I think it’s a good one. We’ll tell through time whether if it was a great move. All coaches have to start somewhere. He has a proven track record with developing young players, getting them to play to their fullest and he has a very impressive winning record to show for it. I think it’s a bold move by Hextall but the right one. We have a fresh prospective and that’s part of Hextall’s plan. Now we just have to continue to have patience and believe that this team will be a contender in 2-3 years.
Tomorrow, I’ll go over the current roster and the needs of the Flyers as the Draft approaches.
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