PHILADELPHIA — Kraken coach Dave Hakstol was a subject of much pregame interest from the local media Monday given it’s his first return to this city and the Wells Fargo Center as a bench boss since the Flyers fired him in December 2018.

Though it’s always different being the top guy, Hakstol did return as a Toronto Maple Leafs assistant during the 2019-20 season and said following his team’s morning skate that helped make this trip easier.

“A couple of years ago I took a wrong turn,” Hakstol said of heading for the home team’s dressing room instead of the visiting one. “I took a turn toward the wrong door, but I’ve got it all down now. A couple of years ago it felt a bit strange, but we’ve come through a couple of times now.”

There’d been speculation about how Hakstol would be received by the local fans, who weren’t always fond of his decisions. But any fear of a negative greeting was headed off when only the Seattle starting players were announced Monday night on the public-address system.

Hakstol went 134-101-42 during parts of four seasons with the Flyers, making the playoffs twice. Before that, he had been a longtime coach at the University of North Dakota with no NHL experience as a player or behind the bench.

Monday he said he felt he’d grown somewhat as an NHL tactician, and in how he relates to some of his NHL players.


“I believe it would have happened no matter what,” he said of relating to NHL players as opposed to collegians. “Over time you grow, you evolve. You push to be better strategically and communications-wise. It’s such a key piece of our game and of our business now.

“Everybody has a different way of going about that, but certainly I think I’ve grown in that area over time. As I hope I will continue to do day in and day out, year in and year out.”

Thompson saw NHL coming

Flyers forward Nate Thompson has come a long way in the two decades since he first appeared with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, having played 812 games with nine teams and now in his 15th NHL season. Still, even back then, he said he could envision Seattle becoming an NHL city someday.

“I knew that it was a matter of time,” he said Monday. “There’d always be rumblings about it being a place the NHL could possibly bring a team in. And I knew that if they did, you’ve seen the other sports teams and how well they do. You know, you’ve got the Seahawks and the Sounders and you see how passionate the fans are for them.

“So you knew that when they named the Kraken to come in, it was going to be an exciting time.”

Thompson said he’s seen a few online photos of Climate Pledge Arena, which looks almost nothing like the former KeyArena did when he played there with the T-birds as his home rink. “It looks like it’s going to be awesome.’’


An Anchorage, Alaska, native whose parents still live in the state, Thompson has kept an eye on the Kraken’s efforts to become that state’s “home” team through various promotions and community endeavors there.

“You have a lot of Alaskans traveling to Seattle now for Seahawks games,” he said, “and, I’d imagine, we’ll see them at Kraken games as well.

“For me, and my other friends growing up, you’d root for whoever. It could be anybody, because there wasn’t an NHL team to follow. I was a huge (Detroit) Red Wings fan. But now I’m sure the young kids growing up in Alaska will definitely have a team that’s close by that they can root for as theirs.”

Thompson broke in with the Thunderbirds in 2001-02, scoring 55 goals and adding 88 assists over the next four seasons — making the playoffs three times during one of the franchise’s better periods.

Hart gets the start

Another Flyers regular with Seattle-area ties is goaltender Carter Hart, the former Everett Silvertips junior star. Hart made his second consecutive start Monday after taking a 5-4 shootout defeat against Vancouver in the team’s season opener Saturday.

Though still only 23, there’s some pressure on Hart to have a bounce-back season after a subpar 2020-21 campaign in which the entire franchise seemed to struggle.

He looked sharp early in the first period, stopping Joonas Donskoi on an early breakaway chance and then thwarting Jordan Eberle with a fantastic, sprawling glove save that denied the winger a goal with the right side of the net wide open. That kept the game scoreless until the floodgates opened with the first of three Philadelphia goals in quick order less than a minute later.


  • Injured Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn skated with the team Monday but will miss the Flyers game. The nature of his injury has not been disclosed.
  • Hakstol inserted Alexander Wennberg into the top line center role, moving Jared McCann down a line along with Kole Lind and Donskoi. Lind was making his season debut in place of Alex Barre-Boulet, who’d appeared in two games since being claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
  • Before being yanked midway through the second period, down 5-0, Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer was making his fourth consecutive start. Hakstol had chosen to ride the hot hand coming off the goaltender’s strong performance in a 2-1 overtime defeat in Columbus on Saturday. But while Grubauer wasn’t at fault for most of the five Flyers goals allowed, he did yield an excessively long rebound on Travis Konecny’s first-period marker and had Justin Braun’s fifth Philadelphia tally trickle through his legs.