Dave Hakstol knows what he wants out of his Flyers team
Coaching philosophy of Flyers' new head man is simple: Accountability, Speed. Structure. Transition.
DAVE HAKSTOL joked that his best play as a defenseman in the International Hockey League in the mid-1990s was "off the glass and out" of the zone.
Thankfully, that philosophy will not be part of his game plan as the Flyers' 19th head coach.
Hakstol aptly summed up his coaching style in four words during his 20 minutes on the dais at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday.
Accountability. Speed. Structure. Transition.
All four words were staples of his teams at the University of North Dakota. They also are four areas in which the Flyers desperately need to improve to catch up to the NHL in 2015 and get back in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"The game is so fast," Hakstol said. "When you see games today, it's played at such a high speed. You've got to be as good a team without the puck. You've got to work and play fast with the puck and with good structure.
"It's about transition. But you've got to have the puck. You've got to get the puck in order to be able to transition up the ice."
The Flyers made marked strides under Craig Berube in the second half of last season in moving the puck up ice quickly, particularly once defenseman Michael Del Zotto was given a longer leash.
Hakstol can demand accountability up front. He can implement a more structured style.
But Flyers general manager Ron Hextall holds most of the cards in making the Flyers faster - and he's the only one who can equip Hakstol's roster with defensemen who specialize in the transition game.
That might not come overnight. But if restricted free agent Del Zotto is re-signed, it will not be too much longer before swift puck-moving prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg are in a mix that complements him and shutdown defender Samuel Morin. Mobile defensemen who are active in the offensive zone, it seems, are the foundation for Hakstol's system, and it's probably no coincidence that is how the Flyers are being built under Hextall.
"It's hard to generate offense. You have to be playing from the back end," Hakstol said. "That doesn't mean you have to lead every play from the back end, but you have to have support and you have to be active from the back end to gain offense."
Clutching a gold medal, Flyers captain Claude Giroux returned home to Ottawa on Monday night after a three-week stay at the World Championships just in time to learn about his new coach.
Giroux said he didn't have enough time to chat or return phone calls, but expected to hear from Dave Hakstol soon. Hakstol planned to call players before deciding to embark on any visits.
"I'm really excited to have a chance to work with him," Giroux told TSN 1200 in Ottawa. "I've heard a lot of good things about him. I'm not too sure what to say, but I'm pretty excited."
Giroux spent most of the World Championships in Prague - where Canada went 10-0-0 and netted a tournament-record 66 goals - centering Buffalo's Tyler Ennis and Dallas' Tyler Seguin. Giroux and his roommate, Seguin, combined for 19 points in 10 games.
Giroux praised coach Todd McLellan, who was introduced as the Oilers' coach yesterday in Edmonton, and Hockey Canada for a "really good experience." Along the way, there was plenty of time to laugh and have fun, hang out in Prague's famed Wenceslas Square, and even playfully chop the stick and glove out of Flyers teammate Jake Voracek's hands on the first shift of the semifinals against the Czech Republic team on its home ice.
"It was just amazing to be a part of that team," Giroux said. "When you're on a team with a lot of big names, you learn to accept a role that maybe you wouldn't have during the season. There were a lot of centermen, a lot of people had to move to the wing. Everybody accepted it and wanted to win."
Although Giroux said he would've much rather been in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Flyers, the Worlds provided a fine cap to his season. Now, after skating alongside Sidney Crosby for three weeks, his attention is back on helping the Flyers "bounce back."
"It was obviously a little different [playing with Crosby], but he's a really good guy," Giroux said. "Just the way he plays on the ice, you can learn a lot from him. It was a little weird at first. But I'm sure our first game against each other, we're going to go right back to the way we were before."
Flyers 2013 first-round pick Samuel Morin helped Rimouski capture the QMJHL championship and advance to Quebec City for the Memorial Cup to determine Canada's national major junior champion. The 6-7 blue liner has 11 points in 19 playoff games . . . Count Dave Hakstol's mother, Theresa, among the surprised. The substitute teacher in Warburg, Alberta, said she had no inkling her son would be moving from North Dakota to the Flyers . . . "Hockey Night in Canada's'' Elliotte Friedman reported Hakstol had an offer to leave North Dakota a few years back to be the coach of the Phoenix Coyotes' AHL affiliate but politely declined . . . The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is providing a leading $8 million gift to construct a new Boys & Girls Club facility in Germantown, complete with a hockey rink.