New Jersey Devils Shouldn't Even Consider Dave Hakstol As Head Coach

Reports came out on Monday that the Seattle Kraken would be moving on from Dave Hakstol, their first and only head coach. Despite his success two seasons ago, this is not a coach Tom Fitzgerald should waste his time on.
Former Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol
Former Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils are going to go on a long and arduous search for a new head coach. After going into last season with Lindy Ruff and seeing former assistant head coach Andrew Brunette successfully leading the Nashville Predators to the playoffs, Tom Fitzgerald's biggest decision this offseason will be who becomes head coach. With everything that went wrong this year and the holes they left, hiring the right head coach is still most important.

He has plenty of options. There have been 17 head coaching changes since the start of the 2023 offseason. In just over a calendar year, 17 teams have been forced to look for a new coach. However, as a glass half-full kind of article, this just gives the Devils more available options for their new head coach. The number hit 17 on Monday when the Seattle Kraken announced that Dave Hakstol would not be returning as head coach next season.

It's a late firing that is deep in the process, but this absolutely shouldn't change the Devils and Fitzgerald's process. Hakstol is an interesting name for certain situations, but the Devils need someone who has a history of winning.

While Hakstol was once considered a winner, it's been a while. He was surprisingly named the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken, but they've largely underachieved. Most analysts thought they'd come out firing like the Vegas Golden Knights, the previous expansion team. Unlike the Knights, who went to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year and never really failed to be a contender, the Kraken missed the playoffs in two of their first three seasons.

Before his time with Seattle, which isn't the easiest situation to succeed, he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. In four years in Philly, Hakstol brought his team to the postseason twice and lost in the first round both times.

Prior to his time in the NHL, Hakstol as the head coach of the University of North Dakota. They were very successful, but they actually never got over that last hump. They made it to the Frozen Four a few times, but they lost when it mattered the most.

Hakstol might get another NHL chance one day. As we see, there is insane turnover happening on benches over the past few years. However, this is not the right move for the Devils. Hakstol's system calls for a lot of players covering players, which if not executed to perfection can cause holes. This is especially true in the defensive zone. This sounds similar to the system Ruff ran exclusively this year that did not work at all.