The Kraken announced their first two assistant coaching hires on Tuesday morning. Joining head coach Dave Hakstol will be his former colleague in Toronto Paul McFarland and former Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach.
We’re excited to welcome Jay Leach & Paul McFarland as our first-ever assistant coaches who will join head coach Dave Hakstol on the bench for the #SeaKraken’s inaugural season.
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) July 6, 2021
McFarland will be in charge of the forwards and the power play unit, a post similar to what he had in Toronto. In his one year as the Leafs’ assistant coach, Toronto finished with the sixth-best power play percentage in the NHL (23.1%). The underlying analytics around his power play were less kind to him, as the team ranked 22nd in shot attempts per 60 minutes with a man-advantage and 17th in expected goals per 60 minutes, according to evolving-hockey.com. The team generated plenty of shots from the circles through Auston Matthews, but did not get much from the low slot right in front of the net.
McFarland was set to head back to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs last year before the season was cancelled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Leach was most recently the head coach of the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. He compiled a career record of 136-77-26 over his four years there, culminating in the second-best record in the league in the 2019-2020 regular season. They finished the year on a streak of 13 games without a loss in regulation and were likely the Calder Cup favorites before the playoffs were shut down due to COVID-19. Providence finished that year with the second-fewest goals allowed in the AHL at 2.48.
Leach, himself a former defenseman, will be in charge of the defense in Seattle. He spent over 100 games in the AHL coaching both the Bruins’ Jérémy Lauzon and Connor Clifton, two players frequently mocked to the Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft.
Bruins fans that are plugged into their minor league system have nothing but great things to say about Leach, and all signs point to him becoming a head coach at the NHL level sooner rather than later. Of Leach, Scott Roche of Fansided.com had this to say:
It is not surprising that Leach is getting consideration for a head coaching job in the NHL as his Providence teams always played hard for him and they were well prepared, as evidence by their records and winning division championships. If Leach leaves, that will leave a void next season behind the Providence bench that will have to be filled and will be tough to follow.