During Dave Hakstol's 11-year tenure as the University of North Dakota's head hockey coach, he was perhaps best known for his ability to build teams.
He constructed them in purposeful ways, blending highly recruited top-end skill (one of his first commits as head coach was Jonathan Toews) with lightly recruited under-the-radar players brought aboard for specific roles (his last-remaining commit at UND is alternate captain Mark Senden).
He recruited specific types of people, too, knowing that hockey seasons are going to have rough patches, and you need players who are going to dig in at those moments, not finger-point and blame others.
"Not every player he brought in was a home run," former player Erik Fabian said. "But when it came to character, he didn't miss very often."
Hakstol also became renowned for developing his teams throughout a season.
Like clockwork, they went on runs after Christmas break virtually every year. They won four league playoff titles in his first seven years as coach and reached the NCAA Frozen Four seven times in 11 years. When he left for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015, he did so having won more college hockey games than any other program during his tenure.
"I know how we do things at North Dakota," head coach Brad Berry said. "And I'm sure Dave will have a lot of that in what he's trying to build in Seattle."
The Seattle Kraken have turned to Hakstol to be the first head coach in franchise history and help build the expansion franchise.
The former UND player and coach was formally introduced at a press conference in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, expressing his excitement about the rare opportunity to do at the NHL level what he did best in college -- build teams from scratch by finding the right players and meshing them together.
"I view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Hakstol, who was joined by his wife, Erinn, and son, Brendan. "We have an opportunity to build from the ground up. Detail and communication is going to be very, very important, not only over the next few weeks of building the roster, but from there, it's planning on how everything fits together."
Seattle general manager Ron Francis said he interviewed eight candidates, but chose Hakstol, someone he got to know during the 2019 IIHF Men's World Championship. Francis was on Hockey Canada's management team and Hakstol was an assistant coach.
Francis first contacted Hakstol about the Seattle job last summer.
Hakstol was an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs the last two years. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Flyers for three-and-a-half years, reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice.
"Tracking back to University of North Dakota days, Dave is a coach who cares about his players," Francis said. "At times, a coach's messages can get diluted. Players want to understand what the coach wants them to do. Dave communicates clearly and concisely. Players like that."
Hakstol won't have to wait long to help build Seattle's franchise.
The NHL Expansion Draft is less than a month away, scheduled for July 21. That will give the Kraken their roster for the inaugural season.
Two days later, the NHL Entry Draft will be conducted. Seattle has the No. 2 overall pick. That will help the Kraken begin to build their foundation of prospects.
While drafting teams in the pros is a different building process than recruiting them in college, some philosophies will carry over.
"It's really about building with good, quality people to begin with," Hakstol said. "Building it the right way. Making sure we're building not only a team that can come out of the gate and play with a lot of pride, passion and have success, but also work toward building the depth of the organization for not only that early success, but to have that sustainable success. Those are the conversations I'll be part of."
Hakstol's success in doing that at UND caught Seattle's eye.
"In 11 years there (at UND) as head coach, nine of those years he had a winning percentage over .600," Francis said. "The other two, he had a winning percentage over .700. And that's in an environment where your changing your team on a yearly basis, and definitely every four years as guys graduate and move on. So, that bodes well for sort-of building the base and being able to communicate."
Dave Hakstol's coaching career by the years
1996-00 -- Sioux City (USHL) head coach
2000-04 -- UND assistant coach
2004-15 -- UND head coach
2015-18 -- Philadelphia Flyers head coach
2019-21 -- Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach
2021-present -- Seattle Kraken head coach