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Uncovering what's beneath Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol's tough exterior

Hakstol loves hockey and is enjoying life in the NHL.

SEATTLE — Dave Hakstol is an intense coach ─ there’s no hiding it. Former players say it’s his stare. Some have even said staring at him is like staring into the sun… a scary, talking Canadian sun. He hasn’t, nor will he, hear the end of it.

Beneath that tough exterior, Hakstol is simply a coach who loves his job. There is no question that Hakstol is enjoying life in the NHL and as the coach of the Seattle Kraken. One of his favorite parts is playing at Climate Pledge Arena ─ something which he thinks gives the team an advantage.

“It’s an awesome place to come to work every day,” he said, “Which is what we want for our players and for everyone involved.”

He also said the team loves the community and feels the responsibility of bringing home some wins.

“We’ve had a tough stretch here. We haven’t been able to win a lot in front of our home fans and that weighs on the players because they know and understand and appreciate how much our fans care and how much energy they bring to us.”

He has always loved hockey and has many memories of his 16 years coaching at the college level in North Dakota ─ some good, some not so good.

For example, there was one time when Hakstol and fellow assistant Brad Berry were driving from Denver back to Grand Forks after a weekend series. With Hakstol at the wheel and Berry asleep in the passenger seat and the snow coming down hard, their trusty Buick LeSabre lost its grip on the highway.

“As I tapped our brakes, I also tapped Brad on the shoulder and said ‘Hey bubs you may want to wake up for this one,” Hakstol said. “When we finally pulled into the nearest gas station, we had corn hanging from the vehicle, the bumpers were hanging off and one distinct thing I remember was there was barbed wire fence marks all the way up the windshield.”

Luckily, they survived that bumpy night. And now, Hakstol’s latest challenge? Surviving this season and making Seattle proud of their new favorite team.