Turns Out Dave Hakstol was Worth the Risk for Flyers
Nearly 1,500 miles away from Philadelphia in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Brad Berry would walk into his office every morning and immediately turn on the NHL Network.
The first-year head coach of the hockey program did this partially to keep current with whatever highlights his players were fawning over that day, but also partially to see if he could catch a glimpse of his predecessor, Dave Hakstol.
In his first year as head coach of the Flyers, Hakstol was the same as he was the previous 11 seasons when he coached at North Dakota.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Berry said with a laugh in a phone interview Tuesday. “I don’t think he’s changed at all with regard to the postgame interviews and the information he shares. It remains pretty consistent from what he was here.”
The stoic Hakstol took the Flyers back to the playoffs after missing out twice in the past three seasons. When he was hired last May, it was regarded as a huge risk for general manager Ron Hextall to make his first hire jump directly from the NCAA to the NHL, something that hadn’t been done since Herb Brooks went from St. Cloud State to the Minnesota North Stars in 1987.
It took Hextall three tries to pry Hakstol away from the University of North Dakota, which won its first national championship since 2000 last month.
“It’s hard because I know how much he loves North Dakota and loves the school and the team and his players, his coaches,” said Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie, who played for Hakstol at UND from 2005 to 2008. “I thought he could have been in the NHL sooner, personally, just with his track record and how well he’s liked.”
When Hextall hired Hakstol, he had some knowledge because Hakstol coached his son Brett at North Dakota. The bigger reason for the hire was that Hakstol’s culture in college meshed well with what the Flyers have in Philadelphia.