The Seattle Krakens announce the hiring of Paul McFarland and Jay Leach as the first assistant coaches to join Head Coach Dave Hakstol’s staff for the organization’s inaugural season.
McFarland, who joins Seattle from Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) where he was the head coach and general manager of the Frontenacs, will primarily be responsible for the team’s forwards and power play. Leach, most recently the head coach of the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL), will be responsible for the team’s defensemen.
“We’re very excited to add two talented hockey minds in Paul and Jay to our inaugural staff,” said Hakstol. “Paul’s work ethic and ability to communicate with players to give them the tools to be at their best along with Jay’s leadership and ability to coach and develop NHL talent will be great additions to our team.”
McFarland, 35, returned to Kingston as head coach in May 2020 before having the title of general manager added in August. Before returning to the OHL, he spent three seasons as an NHL assistant coach with the Florida Panthers (2017-18 and 2018-19) and most recently with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2019-20) along with Hakstol. His teams finished in the top-5 in power-play percentage in each of his final two seasons (T-5th in 2019-20 and 2nd in 2018-19).
Prior to his NHL experience, McFarland coached Kingston to a record of 111-71-22 and three straight OHL playoff berths from 2014-17. He began his coaching career with the Oshawa Generals as an assistant from 2012-14 and coached the OHL all-stars as an assistant twice in the Junior Super Series.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Seattle Kraken organization,” said McFarland. “It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I look forward to working with Dave again, the rest of our staff, and our players.”
Leach joined the family business.The 41-year-old Leach joins the Kraken after five years with Providence (AHL), spending each of the last four seasons as the team’s head coach, compiling a record of 136-77-26. His team made the playoffs in both of his full seasons and ended the last two shortened campaigns in first place in the Atlantic Division. Leach’s uncle, Stephen Leach, was a well-known NHL player with the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins and his uncle (and namesake) Jay Leach coaches the University of Maine Black Bears. His father Chris and uncle Mark played at St. Lawrence University. Jay Leach grew up in the upstate New York-Syracuse area. After four years with Providence College, Leach was a draft choice of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1998. He made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 5, 2005.
The Leach family was originally from the Boston area. Leach played 70 games in the NHL with five different teams but spent most of his career in the American Hockey League, the feeder system for the NHL. A total of 499 games covering 11 years took him to cities like Albany, Worcester, Lowell, Portland (Me.) , Norfolk, Bridgeport, and Springfield. Leach spent parts of four seasons as a defenseman with the Providence Bruins and another year as an assistant before becoming the P-Bruins’ headman.
“I can’t tell you how excited me am for the opportunity to join the Kraken,” said Leach. “From the ownership group to Ron Francis to Dave Hakstol, it is truly an incredible opportunity to work with them. I’m looking forward to the expansion draft, free agency, and training camp as we start to see the team come to fruition.”
The Krakens are expected to name a goaltender coach as well. One of GM Ron Francis’ former teammates with the Hartford Whalers – Sean Burke – is one of the top goalie coaches in the game. Burke’s currently coaching the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals.
Two other former Whalers, Stu Barnes and Ulf Samuelson, are scouting for the Kraken along with Cammi Granato, the first woman inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame after a career at Providence College and the US Women’s Olympic team. Her husband, ESPN broadcaster Ray Ferraro, also played with Francis on the Whalers.