Former Kraken coach Dave Hakstol players talk about hard work and a team-oriented attitude: “Seattle is going to be very well off”
SEATTLE – Upon his introduction a week and a half ago as the Kraken’s first coach, Dave Hakstol revealed that he traveled to Seattle a quarter of a century ago to recruit players from the Sno organization. -King.
At the time, Hakstol had started coaching with a United States Hockey League (USHL) junior level team from Sioux City, Iowa, with “protected team” rights for players from Sno-King, based in Eastside. He even mentioned that he texted one of his former Seattle players just before he was appointed Kraken coach.
“I’m sure he had no idea why he was receiving a random text from me this morning,” Hakstol told the gathered media. “But he’s a great young man and a product of the Seattle hockey community. And that was one of my first opportunities to experience hockey here in Seattle. “
Although Hakstol did not mention the player’s name, some teams from these late 1990s Sioux City Musketeers teams identified a former Sno-King winger named Chris Olsgard, 41, from Saskatchewan, who had moved with his family to Issaquah, Washington, as a teenager.
After leaving Sno-King and playing two seasons for Hakstol in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, Olsgard became an alternate team captain at Ohio State University and now runs a wealth management company based in Columbus, Ohio.
“He was just looking up the name of the show I had performed for,” Olsgard said of Hakstol’s text when he was reached this week. “I don’t think he can remember it was Sno-King by heart.”
Olsgard said he initially found it “a little strange” to get a text message out of nowhere from Hakstol, who had not told him about the pending announcement from Kraken. But Olsgard had previously texted Hakstol in December 2018 to wish him luck following his dismissal by the Philadelphia Flyers, and it all made more sense once Hakstol was named Kraken coach hours after Thursday’s text.
Although Hakstol has coached a lot since Sioux City – 11 years in his University of North Dakota alma mater, 3½ more with the Flyers and the last two as an assistant with Toronto – his four seasons with the Musketeers have laid the groundwork for demanding hard work and for its players to adhere to a team-first attitude that is believed to always be true.
Olsgard said Hakstol is different from his other coaches and clearly destined for bigger things.
“He’s pretty honest about who you are as a player and what he asks of guys,” Olsgard said. “I knew he was a tough coach and Sioux City was kind of a little barn and that would be a physical style of play.
“I think that’s what attracted me to him. I knew the harder I worked with a guy like Hak, the more opportunities I would have.
Training at Sioux City was unlike anything Hakstol had known as a North Dakota defenseman and in the minor pro ranks. A serious knee injury prompted Hakstol to consider a career change to play in Europe when the Sioux City coach abruptly resigned from one game in the 1996-97 season.
The former Hakstol, ND coach was then the USHL commissioner and believed his ex-player would make a formidable bench boss. Hakstol took over a horrific group of Musketeers, losing his first game 16-4 and winning just eight of the 53 games he coached that season, en route to the league’s worst record.
The Musketeers have used 41 players this season as Hakstol struggled to find overalls. But he implored the players to keep working hard and the following season the Musketeers cut their 5.63 goals per game against in half and reached the playoffs.
Olsgard arrived the following season and the Musketeers – along with future NHL players David Hale, Rusty Klesla and Ruslan Fedotenko also signed by Hakstol to their ranks – made the playoffs again.
In the 1999-2000 season, the Musketeers had four Seattle-area players – Olsgard, forwards Matt Scherer of Lake Forest Park and Brandon Schmidt of Arlington and goaltender Steve Jones of Lake Stevens. They made the playoffs again in Hakstol’s last campaign before he joined North Dakota and mated with fellow Seattle-area player TJ Oshie of Stanwood, now a mainstay of the Washington Capitals. which could be on display at the Kraken during the expansion draft on July 21.
Scherer, 39, only played half of the 1999-2000 season at Sioux City under Hakstol before being traded, but said the coach made a lasting impression at the age of 17 and unsure of his long move from Seattle to continue his career.
“I remember my first two exhibition games, I fought with 20-year-old guys and they threw snot at me,” Scherer said. “I went to my first day of high school in Sioux City with two black eyes. So at the end of training right after that he (Hakstol) comes and we sparred. He taught me a few things. It was just the only time he did that, but when you’re 17 and your trainer grabs your sweater out of nowhere, it’s shocking. I’m like ‘What? Are you going to throw? ‘ But it helped me, for sure.
“Right after that we’re going to play Thunder Bay and I’m in another fight and it was the first fight I ever won.”
This gave Scherer confidence to stay with the USHL for four seasons. He played four more for the University of Connecticut, then five with the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays – winning a championship in 2009 under current Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar.
Scherer still lives in South Carolina, runs a Charleston-based insurance consulting firm, and occasionally contacts Hakstol.
“He was a straight guy with a tough nose,” Scherer said. “He was very sincere and precise. I think Seattle is going to be very well off.
The same goes for Olsgard, who agreed that Hakstol didn’t play favorites and gave equal tutelage to anyone who made the effort.
“Looking back, I felt like he was really invested in me and wanted the best for me as a player no matter where I wanted to go,” said Olsgard. “He really appreciated a serious player – someone who will put the team before him. And I think I took it to the state of Ohio. I really tried to emulate this style of leadership.
Olsgard has said he believes the Kraken will be successful under Hakstol if the lineup is similar to the Sioux City teams.
“Every guy in that locker room that he and the other coaches recruited were just quality guys,” he said. “And I can’t stress this enough. Being around the sport and seeing how you build a team, it’s these blue collar workers who make it. Granted, you need some skill to move forward, but that team-first mentality is really what Hak was. “
And after the next expansion project, we should know better what the Kraken is all about and what impact Hakstol is already having on the roster.