Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol is no stranger to the Philadelphia fan base following his first season in the City of Brotherly Love. He's heard the cheers and he's heard the boos, but he was prepared when he arrived less than a year ago because he'd been around another group of passionate fans – the ones in North Dakota.
When Hakstol learned the Eagles had selected quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, he was confident the North Dakota State product wouldn't miss a beat in Philadelphia.
"He's coming from a pretty passionate sports base in North Dakota and he's coming to an extremely passionate sports base here, no question," Hakstol said in a phone interview on Eagles Draft Central. "Joining the Eagles' organization here is going to be pretty special for him. From my standpoint, I think he's going to be just fine. He's a guy that handles himself with great humility and I'm sure he'll come in here, just keep his feet on the ground and go to work every day. He'll do a good job and he'll be appreciated here for that."
It's been an amazing week for the Eagles organization and second-overall pick Carson Wentz. Get to know the quarterback a bit better ...
Prior to this past year, Hakstol coached the men's ice hockey team at the University of North Dakota for 11 seasons, about an hour and a half north of where Wentz played his college ball. Although Hakstol has never met the quarterback, he's followed his career from afar and has heard much about the 23-year-old's athletic abilities and character.
Even without knowing him personally, Hakstol is well aware of the way Wentz is wired. Having spent so much of his own life in North Dakota, the NHL coach understands the way of life and the values of the people living there.
"I know the area very well that he grew up in. I know the substance of the people that he grew up with and around and certainly that's had a great impact on who he is today," Hakstol said. "I've heard so many good things about him as a young man and as a person."
Just as Hakstol mentioned, Wentz's character is something that has been discussed time and time again in the days since the Eagles drafted him. Both Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson spoke about the quarterback's "intangibles" and are thrilled to work with not just Wentz the football player, but also Wentz the person.
He's intelligent, a natural leader and a guy who wants to excel at anything and everything he does. Those are the qualities any head coach would look for in a player, no matter the sport.
"The way you conduct yourself, the detail of your preparation every day, your consistency as a worker every day – those things are invaluable, not only to you individually as an athlete but to those around you that will eventually look to you for leadership," Hakstol explained. "So, I don't think you can say enough about those qualities."
While Wentz has yet to step foot on the field in an Eagles jersey, it's clear his goal is to compete and win games in Philadelphia. But, that doesn't mean he won't face adversity at some point in his career.
If and when he does, Hakstol has a few words of advice – from one North Dakota guy to another.
"I think anybody involved in athletics, and really life, everything isn't going to go your way all the time," Hakstol said. "But, when you're rooted with a good foundation of work ethic, when you know and trust the people around you and you trust that you can lean on them for help and advice going through some of the ups and downs, I think those are important things.
"At the end of the day, you stay humble, you work hard and you make sure you stay loyal to the people that are around you. Just continue to go out, do the work and compete at the highest level. Let's be honest, that's what it's about. When you push yourself to compete at the highest level every day, you're going to be OK."