Seattle Kraken 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). 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.
Internationally, the Richmond Hill, Ontario, native was the head coach of Canada’s U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2017 and was an assistant with Canada Red in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.
“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.”
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.
Before joining Providence, Leach spent 2015-16 as an assistant coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and was an assistant coach for Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in Germany, helping the team win the 2014-15 championship.
The former defenseman played 11 professional seasons from 2001-13, recording one goal and two assists in 70 NHL games with New Jersey, San Jose, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Boston. He appeared in 499 career AHL games with the Albany Devils, Worcester Sharks, Lowell Devils, Portland Pirates, Norfolk Admirals, Providence Bruins, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Springfield Falcons, and was a three-time AHL captain (Providence 2005-07, Worcester 2010-11 and Albany 2012-13). He was originally selected in the fifth round (115th overall) by Arizona in the 1998 NHL Draft.
Prior to his professional career, the Syracuse, NY, native played four seasons at Providence College from 1997-2001 and served as team captain his senior year. He represented Team USA at the 1998 World Junior Championships.
“I can’t tell you how excited I 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 Seattle Kraken’s Expansion Draft is in 15 days on July 21, followed by the NHL Draft on July 23-24. The puck will drop for the team’s inaugural season at Climate Pledge Arena in the fall.