At this point in time, the answer to this question might seem obvious to most Philadelphia Flyers’ fans. However, in an attempt to give head coach Dave Hakstol an objective examination, we’ll take a look at both his successes and losses during his tenure as Philly’s head coach.
Hakstol has been behind the Flyers’ bench since the start of the 2015-16 season. Over that time, he’s won 129 of 261 regular season games, which is tied for 16th across the league with the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders. The Flyers’ four playoff wins over the last four seasons (three postseasons) is tied with the Minnesota Wild for 17th in the league.
Although those numbers aren’t impressive, Hakstol has made some smart decisions along the way. For one, he did make the decision to move Claude Giroux to the wing last season and paired him with Sean Couturier all year. Not only did Giroux finish second cheap philadelphia flyers jersey
in the league with 102 points, but Couturier also set several career highs as well. Hakstol did also pair Shayne Gostisbehere with Ivan Provorov last season to form one of the better defensive pairings in the league. Although it seemed like a fairly obvious move, it was still a gamble to load up one defensive pairing while the other two pairings had question marks.
Aside from those two successes, Hakstol’s lineup and in-game decisions, as well as his system overall, are questionable to most. As Brad Keffer outlined in a piece about Hakstol earlier this season, the coach has an obsession with forwards that show little to no offensive creativity or upside. From the untouchables to Jori Lehtera, Hakstol is persistent in icing these types of forwards. On the defensive side, Andrew MacDonald was a staple in the lineup until recently and Brandon Manning was consistently chosen to play over Travis Sanheim last season. He can’t control goalie’s save percentages or injuries, but riding a goalie until the point of exhaustion probably doesn’t help either of those issues. On top of the lineup struggles, the system of low to high with defensemen taking a good amount of point shots is going on four years and isn’t exactly a success.
To go along with the lineup issues, it seems as though he is often making the wrong in-game moves. Hakstol never utilizes his timeout, even when everybody else in the building can feel the momentum swinging the way of the other team. This was highlighted in Game 3 of the Flyers’ series against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Spring. Hakstol also either benches dynamic forwards in the middle of games when his team needs an offensive boost (Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny at times last season) or limits a younger forward in a game where he has lost another forward to injury (Mikhail Vorobyev when Corban Knight went down early in the 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders).