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News / Sports

Kraken GM Ron Francis open to changes after team misses playoffs

Future of coach Dave Hakstol uncertain after team's regression

By TIM BOOTH, Associated Press
Published: April 22, 2024, 9:04pm

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis said Monday evaluations are still ongoing about whether there will be changes with head coach Dave Hakstol or any of the coaching staff after the third-year franchise missed the playoffs.

Francis said the team is still in the middle of examining what happened this season, and he would not confirm whether Hakstol would return for a fourth year.

“There’s a lot of things we have to look at and factor in, and we’ll continue to do that in the next few weeks,” Francis said.

Asked specifically about Hakstol’s status, Francis said, “Well, you’re going to read into that one way or the other, but this is the process we do every year and that’s what we’re in right now.”

Hakstol was a Jack Adams Award finalist for coach of the year after last season and received a two-year contract extension following the first playoff appearance for the Kraken that included a first-round upset of the then-defending champion Colorado Avalanche.

Hakstol has gone 107-112-27 in his three seasons in charge of the Kraken.

But Seattle took a significant dip in its third season after that surprising postseason run in Year 2 when it finished with 100 points. The Kraken finished this season 34-35-13 with 81 points and were officially eliminated from playoff contention in the first week of April.

Francis said the message from management after last year’s playoff success was that reaching that level again would be challenging. After seeing the results of this season, Francis said he’s not sure that message was absorbed.

“The message was don’t think this is going to be easy next year because it’s going to be harder. I think in some regards they heard that, but I don’t know if they necessarily believed it,” Francis said.

While injuries to key players like Andre Burakovsky, Philipp Grubauer and Vince Dunn played a role in Seattle’s record, the biggest reason was a big dip in scoring. The Kraken were 29th in the league in goals scored, 29th in shooting percentage and 18th on the power play.

Francis noted that Seattle was the only team in the league to rank in the top 10 in most defensive metrics and not make the playoffs. That only emphasizes that boosting the offense will be the focus of the offseason.

Francis said the combination of salary cap space and a plethora of draft picks opens up a bunch of options that Seattle can explore to try to spark more scoring.

“We’ll look at everything that we have to look at to try and make our team better. It’s important for us to get back on the winning track,” Francis said.

Dunn played in just two of Seattle’s final 20 games because of a neck injury, Francis said. Burakovsky missed six weeks early in the season with a broken collarbone. Jordan Eberle suffered a broken hand during a fight in Seattle’s fourth game and played through the injury, but it likely contributed to his slow start, with just six points in his first 15 games.

Seattle started this season 8-14-7, including an eight-game losing streak, before a big turnaround in late December and January that pushed the Kraken back into the playoff conversation. But the Kraken lost at lowly San Jose in the final game before the All-Star break, and that loss seemed to set the tone that a playoff push wouldn’t materialize.

The Kraken went just 13-16-3 after the All-Star break, and a painful overtime loss at home to Vegas on March 12 brought an end to any reasonable playoff aspirations.