“I wasn’t going to choose the coach that was the people’s choice, the popular choice,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “I was going to pick the coach that I felt like for this franchise from today, next year and moving forward was the right coach. And Dave is the right coach for this franchise at this point.”
Hextall’s replacement for the fired Craig Berube spent the last 11 seasons as the bench boss for the University of North Dakota and enjoyed tremendous success at the NCAA level. He was 289-143-43 and his team qualified for the NCAA Tournament each season, reaching the so-called Frozen Four seven times.
Hakstol has no previous NHL experience, but he’s now the third person to go directly from the NCAA leel to the National Hockey League.
This is an interesting choice for the Flyers when one considers the other coaches available, like former San Jose coach Todd McLellan and former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. Hextall and Philly obviously had different decisions to make and this should be a good fit.
Hakstol has coached 20 players who made their way to the National Hockey League, including Jonathan Toews and T.J. Oshie. He also coached Hextall’s son Brett for three seasons at North Dakota and saw his style up close.
The Flyers have missed the post-season twice in the past three years and hasn’t come up with a series victory since the first round of the 2012 playoffs. Despite having a good core group of players, something seems to be missing.
In Hakstol, Hextall believes he has the right guy going forward. And now, it’s time to get to work.
“I had a list of things I wanted from a head coach and went down this checklist in my mind and every box was checked except for the NHL experience,” Hextall said. “…for me that’s the one that’s least important…Does Dave have things to learn? Absolutely; he’ll be the first to admit it. He’s got a lot of time here to get to know the League, get to know our team, familiarize himself with the area, look into forming a staff.”
In the coming season, the Flyers will have some potential prospects ready to unleash. Scott Laughton, Samuel Morin and Shayne Gostisbehere could be factors. Philly also has two picks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and Hakstol should have plenty to work with as he begins his necessary work behind the bench.