Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated last week that there could be some changes to the coaching staff of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as some of their assistants have received interest from other NHL clubs. On Thursday, those suspicions were confirmed as the Seattle Kraken tabbed Leafs assistant Dave Hakstol as the franchise’s first head coach.
Hakstol served as an assistant to both Mike Babcock and Sheldon Keefe the last two seasons, primarily working with the club’s defensemen and the Leafs penalty-killing units. The 52-year-old previously served as head coach at the University of North Dakota and for three and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The departure of Hakstol leaves Toronto with former Jack Adams Award winner Paul MacLean (as the club’s “eye in the sky”) and Manny Malhotra (forwards and power play) and likely looking for an experienced hand to work with a relatively inexperienced Keefe and Malhotra.
Last season, there were indications that former Wild, Ducks, and Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau was on the Leafs radar for the position filled by Malhotra, but with the likely Hakstol replacement being someone to work with the club’s blueline, that would seem to rule to Boudreau out.
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