Seattle Sports Has Four New Head Coaches This Year

How will they all do? Who will succeed and who will fail?

Well, on a long-enough timeline, they all fail, don’t they? Except for the very extreme minority who get to go out on their own terms. But, success can be defined any number of ways, so let’s get into it.

The Seahawks, the Kraken, Husky football, and Husky basketball have all had to replace their head coaches for one reason or another. The Seahawks needed to move on from one of those success stories, probably a year or two beyond when was appropriate. The Kraken took a step backwards in their third season of existence, and have never really looked like they were well-coached. Husky football has tried to recover from the potentially-devastating loss of Kalen DeBoer after making a run at the national championship. And Husky basketball will be trying to recover from an extended run of incompetence (thanks to a contract they could ill-afford to get out from under until now). There are all sorts of different reasons teams move on from a coaching staff, but for the most part, the reason is: we want improvement.

The Seahawks had grown stagnant over the last decade, after making back-to-back Super Bowls; they needed a fresh voice and a total reset.

The Kraken never really seemed to get the most out of their players, particularly on offense. Which is funny to say, because in the 2022-2023 season, the offense was more-or-less fine, and we made the playoffs as a result. But, the step-back in 2023-2024 only solidified the fact that this team wasn’t making any progress. The young players weren’t developing, the scheme on offense never really took shape, they never improved in the areas they’ve always struggled (even in their playoff season, they sucked on power plays and in face-offs). This is a team that was built to succeed from within. Yet, the guys we’ve drafted a the top of the first three drafts haven’t done much of anything. That needs to change in the next couple years, or there will be a much bigger housecleaning coming. Getting the most out of the players we have is paramount; it’s less of a total reset, but still very much a fresh voice needed.

Husky basketball has been in need of a total makeover for a while now, but as I mentioned above, they were financially unwilling to take the hit needed to get rid of Mike Hopkins, until now. This is the biggest rebuilding job of the four, and yet it doesn’t feel as dire. Just because things are SO low for this program; there’s nowhere to go but up. We need a coach who knows how to recruit in this new era of college athletics. We need a coach who can take that successful mid-major mentality and carry it over into the power conference we’re joining. We need someone who’s adept at connecting to this relative hotbed of a basketball community, while at the same time able to bring in players from around the country, both developing them and getting them to gel as a unit. If it leads to a return to the Tourney, great. But, I would settle for baby steps. Just be fun to watch again!

Husky football arguably has the toughest rebuilding job of the bunch, because of all the players we lost – both to the NFL and the transfer portal – and because of the way we were left in the lurch by DeBoer. This is a team that can only go DOWN, at least in the short term. But, our new coach is tasked with trying to rebuild on the fly, to at least bring this team up to a competent level, and hopefully get us back to contending for conference titles and national championships sooner rather than later.

Oddly enough, I have the MOST confidence in Jedd Fisch with the Husky football team. It’s not that I necessarily think he’s the best coach or smartest guy or anything. I just think he’s a guy on the rise, we’re getting him at the absolute perfect time in his career, and he’s STARVING to both do well here and move on as quickly as possible to a better program. He’s the best Used Car Salesman we’ve ever had in Seattle; he’ll be able to extract the money we need to buy the players we need to bounce back in a hurry. I give him two glorious, better-than-expected years. If we don’t win it all in that time, I still think he will have done enough to earn a promotion elsewhere. That second year will really be the good one, I think. At the very least, look for the Husky football team to be in the 2025 Big Ten Championship Game, if not winning it and making it back to the playoffs.

I think I have the least amount of confidence in Danny Sprinkle, but that says nothing about him, and everything about the Husky basketball program. By all accounts, Sprinkle is great, and like Fisch, a guy on the rise who we’re getting at the exact right time. If I were to believe in Fisch as much as I do, I have no reason to doubt Sprinkle, who might not be quite the shyster, but is just as motivated to parlay this into bigger and better things. I just don’t think Husky basketball is ever going to be more than an occasional Tournament participant, and a Sweet 16 team once in a blue moon. It’s cool and all that we were able to sign Great Osobor to the highest free agent contract in college basketball history (or whatever the fuck we’re calling it, under the guise of NIL), but I’ve seen tons of elite-looking basketball recruits sign here. Only to accomplish nothing until they left after one season and turned pro.

Dan Bylsma, the new Kraken head coach – after his promotion from our Coachella Valley affiliate – is the biggest wild card to me, mostly because I know very little about hockey, and what makes a good NHL coach. He has prior NHL coaching experience; seems like a good thing. He also has experience coaching a lot of our younger players at Coachella Valley, which I feel like is a great thing. With the success that team has had, and their ability to score the way they have, it seems like he should be a perfect fit here. Someone to actually get the most out of these players. Someone who will hopefully turn Matty Beniers and Shane Wright into monsters. Someone who can jumpstart this offense while still getting the most out of our defense. I’m a fan of the hire, but obviously we’ll know a lot more once the games start this fall.

Potentially the most interesting hire of the bunch is Mike Macdonald. He seems like the one with the most potential for greatness, and obviously the one most likely to stick around the longest. If he’s as smart as advertised – if he’s the defensive version of Sean McVay – then we’re talking about a guy who can take us all the way.

It feels pretty rare to have so much coaching turnover happen in the same offseason. That makes this a really pivotal time in Seattle sports. Our lives could be changing drastically for the better … or it’ll just be a lot of the same mediocre bullshit.

The Kraken Had A Cool Draft

I wouldn’t say “despondent” is the right word, because it’s hard to say how invested I am in the Kraken after an underwhelming (to say the least) first season in the NHL. But, I was pretty down on things in general when the Kraken lost in the draft lottery, falling to the fourth pick overall.

To be fair, I have no idea what kind of impact player you would usually get at four. My gut says the NHL is a lot like the NBA when it comes to the draft, in that if you don’t have the top one or two guys, there’s probably a big step down to the next tier of incoming players. I could be off base, but that’s the vibe I get, and maybe it’s even more pronounced in the game of hockey than it is in basketball?

Last year, the Kraken were an incoming franchise, and even then we couldn’t just be gifted the number one pick overall, having to luck into getting number two. It just so happened that we landed a pretty solid all-around center in Matty Beniers (though, it’s my understanding that there was a top guy in a class by himself who we didn’t get, followed by everyone else), who ended up making a cup of coffee after playing another season in college last season. I think everyone is pretty high on Beniers and his chances to pop at the professional level.

But, you need more than one guy to make a team good. Considerably more than one, if we’re being honest.

Well, now it looks like the Kraken have a second guy.

Shock of shocks, the consensus #1 overall player in this year’s draft – Shane Wright – fell to the fourth pick, after three teams passed on him. Some teams allegedly passed on him because they didn’t need a center; clearly Montreal just favored someone else over him. But, what matters is, now the Kraken have two potentially elite-level centers to throw into the mix and build around for the long-term prosperity of this franchise.

The question that remains is: how long will it take for this building to bear fruit?

I mentioned this on Twitter, but I’ll repeat it here: this is the biggest pleasant surprise we’ve had from a player personnel perspective in franchise history. Truly, this is the best thing that’s happened since the Kraken team name was announced.

The expansion draft was largely underwhelming, and no one but the most pie-in-the-sky optimists could squint and find anything exciting to reference. Free agency last year was largely a shrug (and the way the season played out for most of those signings, we saw the worst case scenario of what could’ve happened). Even last year’s entry draft was a snooze, with Beniers being kind of a no-brainer consolation prize.

But, Wright seems to be a true difference-maker. Which makes it seem almost fishy that he managed to fall to Seattle at the fourth pick. It’s almost like someone in the league office worked their magic to FINALLY throw us a fucking bone, after all it cost us to join this fucking league. The Golden Knights of Las Vegas became instant championship contenders … but at least we finally got something to be hopeful about as we head into year two.

I don’t know what else to say about the draft after Wright. We picked 11 guys in total. Then, this week as free agency opened, we signed forward Andre Burakovsky to a 5-year deal. He comes over from Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, and is actually a 2-time champion in his career. It’s not a flashy signing, but it looks like he’ll bring a steady scoring presence. Considering how lacking we were in scoring last year, anything at this point will only help.

So, how long until the Kraken are good? We’ll see! We’ll see if the right guys are signed in free agency. We’ll see if they mesh well in this system. Hell, we’ll see if this is even the right system in the first place, or if we need to look into a coaching change.

For now, it does look like the youth movement is on the right track when it comes to drafting and developing. Let’s hope that’s accurate, and in another couple years, we’ll start to see a huge turnaround. At this point, I’m going to need the Kraken to be remotely interesting before I start giving more of a fuck.