Flyers mailbag: Re-evaluating Dave Hakstol’s tenure? Prospects on the cusp? UFA

Ah, the real offseason (part 1).

With the Philadelphia Flyers’ search for a president of hockey operations now over, it’s time for the belated beginning of the dead period between the end of the team’s season, and the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final in June. It’s the perfect time, in other words, for our May edition of Flyers mailbag.

As is now the standard, this month’s mailbag will be presented in two parts. Part 1 focuses more on specific players and individuals in the Flyers’ orbit. On Saturday, we’ll move toward looking at long-term focused questions, with an eye on team-building and front office structure.

Note: Submitted questions may be lightly edited for clarity and style.

The success that Hakstol is having with Seattle really has me rethinking my general disdain for him and his coaching of the Flyers. Was he as bad of a coach as we made him out to be? Has he learned that much and made significant changes between his time in Philly and Seattle? Why couldn’t he get as much out of those Flyers rosters as he is getting out of a relatively similar skilled Kraken roster? — Parker W.

Ah, the Dave Hakstol question.

The vitriol that Hakstol received in Philadelphia over the final couple years of his tenure — particularly in online circles — was extensive. I wouldn’t say it quite matched the degree of hate that Chuck Fletcher got at the end of his time as Flyers GM, but it was in the same ballpark. Hakstol was not a popular head coach here. Now, he’s the man who coached the Seattle Kraken (a second-year expansion team) to within one win of reaching the NHL’s final four. Meanwhile, the Flyers are at possibly the lowest point in franchise history. So sure, it’s completely fair to wonder if the fans got it all wrong with Hakstol.

My opinion is that the Hakstol hate was always a bit overblown, but his flaws in Philadelphia were real and were deserving of criticism. In Seattle, however, Hakstol has either worked to address them, or they’re less apt to be damaging to him given the Kraken’s situation.

To be clear, Hakstol was never a truly terrible coach in Philadelphia. I made that point in the immediate aftermath of his firing, and the heart of my argument from Dec. 17, 2018, still stands.

“Dave Hakstol wasn’t a bad coach. Bad coaches don’t lead a team with only half of a good defense corps and goaltending that never really exceeded ‘passable’ (and was often worse than that) to the playoffs in two out of three seasons. But based on his track record (134-101-42 in regular-season games), and the fact that the same issues kept popping up for this team and were never really resolved, it seems fair to surmise that he’s not a great one, either.”

What were those issues? Poor starts. Wild inconsistency from game to game and month to month. A tendency to trust underwhelming (or downright poor) veterans over more talented (and more effective) youngsters. Inconsistent discipline (young players…

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Read More: Flyers mailbag: Re-evaluating Dave Hakstol’s tenure? Prospects on the cusp? UFA 2023-05-19 22:03:09

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