The Seattle Kraken, who are scheduled to begin play as the League’s 32nd team in the 2021-22 NHL season, are in no hurry to hire a coach.
“We don’t know yet the kind of team we may be able to draft, so we’re comfortable kind of sitting back and waiting right now and watching what happens here,” general manager Ron Francis told The Athletic on Friday. “There’s still, hopefully, a 2020-21 season getting up and running and playing. Are there guys that end up losing their jobs or looking for other things elsewhere?
“I just think we have time on this. We’re not in a race to make that decision at this point.”
Francis, who was hired July 18, 2019, would not say whether he had interviewed any coaching candidates.
The expansion draft will take place at a date to be determined following this season, though the Kraken should be able to begin acquiring players before then.
“We’re not officially part of the league until we make our last (expansion fee) payment, which will happen next year,” Francis said. “We can’t make any transactions until that starts happening. That doesn’t preclude us from talking to teams and teams from talking to us if either side wanted to.”
The Kraken haven’t decided whether they will try to emulate the Vegas Golden Knights’ win-now approach. Vegas entered the NHL as the League’s 31st team in 2017-18, lost to the Washington Capitals in five games in the Stanley Cup Final during its first season and reached the Western Conference Final last season before losing to the Dallas Stars in five games.
Whatever approach the Kraken take in building the team could help decide whom they hire as coach.
“I think we’re getting closer to having an idea now that we’ve gotten through a little bit of the free agency,” Francis said. “There could still be moves before the NHL hopefully gets up and running. Things become a little bit clearer as far as what you think may or may not be available, and then you start having those discussions with teams and try to get an indication on what may or may not be available. So, I think once you get more into that process a little bit more, we’ll have a better indication (of their roster approach and philosophy).”
Francis acknowledged that whoever is hired will face pressure to win quickly, but said he wants to set the new team up for long-term success as well.
“You always want to win now,” he said. “But we’ll have to judge the landscape and see where things are and make the decisions that are right both short term and long term.”