SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Kraken on Wednesday signed coach Dave Hakstol to a contract extension through the 2025-26 season after he led the franchise to the second round of the playoffs in its second season.
Hakstol had one-year remaining on the three-year contract he got when he was named the first coach in franchise history before the start of the 2021-22 season. He received the new deal tacking on two more seasons because of what Seattle was able to accomplish in Year 2.
“We believe we are heading in the right direction with Dave as our head coach and it was important to show that confidence with this contract extension,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “Dave and his staff have done a great job of creating a close-knit, team-first mindset in our locker room and their work ethic helps set the tone for our team.”
Seattle made a 40-point jump from Year 1 to Year 2, finishing with 46 wins and 100 points. The Kraken hovered around the top of the Pacific Division for most of the season and earned the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
In the opening round of their first playoffs, the Kraken knocked off defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado in seven games, before falling to Dallas in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
Along the way, Hakstol was lauded for finding a system that worked with Seattle’s style of play and using the entirety of the Kraken lineup. He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
“We are building something special here in Seattle. We have a committed staff, a great group of players and an incredible fanbase,” Hakstol said. “We took a lot of positive steps last season and we have much more to achieve.”
Hakstol, 54, was a surprise choice as Seattle’s first head coach when he was hired in the summer of 2021 ahead of the NHL expansion draft. He had marginal success in his first head coaching stint in the NHL with Philadelphia, taking the Flyers to the postseason twice but never advancing beyond the first round. The Flyers also never reached the 100-point mark in the regular season and Hakstol was fired midway through the 2018-19 season.
His first season in Seattle was a challenge, trying to pull together an entirely new squad with COVID-19 restrictions still in place and the overwhelming expectations of trying to come close to what Vegas did in its expansion season, when it made the playoffs.
Seattle fell short in its expansion season, putting some pressure on Hakstol and his staff to show significant improvement in the second season. The Kraken did more than that, rolling off win streaks of eight and seven games in the first half of the season to establish Seattle’s legitimacy as a playoff team.
The 40-point increase for Seattle was the largest in league history for a team from its first to second season.
Hakstol is the second member of Seattle’s staff to receive an extension this offseason; Francis signed an extension in May that will keep him locked up with the franchise through the 2026-27 season.