The Philadelphia Flyers went far off the radar screen with the announcement of the hiring of longtime University of North Dakota (UND) head coach Dave Hakstol as the 19th head coach in franchise history. Hakstol, who reached the Frozen Four seven times in 11 years at UND, has been a very prominent name on the national collegiate hockey scene for many years.
Nevertheless, the 46-year-old Hakstol's name rarely came up in NHL head coaching rumors. Himself a former UND player who briefly played minor league hockey in the now-defunct International Hockey League as a hard-nosed defensive defenseman, the Alberta native has spent the last 15 years coaching in Grand Forks. He was an assistant for the first four years and then spent 11 years as the team's head coach.
"I thought about him long before this as a head coach in the National Hockey League," said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall at the introductory press conference. "I believe he was destined for it. He’s got a lot of pro qualities. He’s got a lot of experience as a head coach. So I started going through the process here, the guy that I needed to get to know the most was Dave. We met for parts of four days, we were on the phone a lot, and everything checked out the way that we hoped it would check out. I had a list of things that I wanted from a head coach, and went down the checklist in my mind and every box was checked except for the NHL experience."