Kraken GM Ron Francis says evaluations still ongoing with coaching staff

Columbus Blue Jackets v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 28: Head coach Dave Hakstol of the Seattle Kraken looks on during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Climate Pledge Arena on January 28, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis said on Monday that evaluations are still underway with any potential changes with the Kraken coaching staff, including head coach Dave Hakstol, in Francis' end of season press conference at Kraken Community Iceplex. 

Francis said that process involves coaching staff, management, and assessing numerous variables that led to the Kraken missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second in their three seasons, a conclusion that Francis said he and staff are working toward within “the next few weeks.” 

Francis ultimately would not confirm or deny Hakstol returning behind the bench next season, which would be his fourth in Seattle. 

“You’re going to read into it one way or the other, but this is the process we do every year and that’s what we’re in right now,” said Francis. 

Francis reaffirmed that later Monday when he told 93.3 KJR-FM that he is “evaluating everything,” ultimately using a thorough “due diligence” method involving his hockey staff, analytics team and ownership. 

“Teams make their changes during the season, sometimes teams make changes after the season,” said Francis. “Heck, I think last year, Nashville let their guy go toward the end of June. There’s always different things that happen. But in our case, this is our process at the end of the year.” 


What Francis spoke of was the deliberate process where the Predators parted ways last offseason with John Hynes, six weeks after the conclusion of the season which was a move that fell on May 31. But the Predators, who missed the postseason for the first time in nine years, rebounded with the hire of Andrew Brunette and reached the postseason once again this year with a 47-win and 99-point campaign. 

The Kraken suffered through a fierce offensive drop-off this year which saw their five-on-five production plummet from leading the league last season, to 28th while scoring just 2.6 goals per game overall, 29th in the NHL. Their team shot percentage, second in the league last season, fell to 29th this season while Andre Burakovsky and Matty Beniers (last year’s Calder Trophy winner) – though injuries and slow offensive production both played a part - accounted for just 22 combined goals.

Though the Kraken were the only team within the top ten of the NHL for fewest goals allowed to miss the playoffs and enjoyed their most prodigious season in goaltending, they were stunted by a sluggish 1-4-1 start, fighting their way back into the playoff picture with an 11-0-2 run around the victorious Winter Classic, only to see their playoff hopes dashed with an 8-13-2 record after March.

Health was not as kind to the Kraken this year as the previous season, when they had a record-breaking run to the playoffs as a second-year franchise and only sustained an Andre Burakovsky groin injury which knocked him out for the season after the All-Star break. This year, the health bug bit them right from the start – Brandon Tanev, limited to just seven goals in 66 games, was knocked out of the season opener against Vegas on a high hit by Brett Howden, and sidelined a month. Francis said Jordan Eberle played through a broken hand for six weeks he suffered originally on Oct. 17, the same night he fought Logan O’Connor of the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 Kraken loss, and in their home opener at Climate Pledge Arena. 

Burakovsky – who has appeared in less than 60 games in four of the last five seasons – was limited to 49 contests while battling an assortment of lower and upper body ailments this year. Jaden Schwartz and Beniers both missed time out of the lineup, while Dunn – arguably a significant sparkplug to the Kraken offense on the blueline - was knocked out in Mar. 4 on a high hit by Martin Pospisil in Calgary, then elbowed in the face on Apr. 3 by Alex Laferriere in Los Angeles. He would appear only in two of the remaining 20 games. 

“We just have to do a better job next year of when stuff happens and stopping the bleeding quicker,” said Francis.  

Hakstol – who is now the longest tenured coach in the Pacific Division – is 107-112-27 in three seasons as Kraken head coach and was a finalist for the league’s Jack Adams Award last year, given to the top coach in the NHL. He received a two-year extension after the season which included a monumental upset of the Colorado Avalanche in seven games, and a Kraken season that ended in a seven-game loss to the Dallas Stars in the second round. 

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