That didn’t take long.
Just nine days after their season ended, the Flyers hired Alain Vigneault as their head coach Monday, hoping he can end a 44-year Stanley Cup drought.
Vigneault, 57, is the 12th-winningest coach in NHL history.
“I think it’s a great day for the Flyers organization,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a conference call with reporters. “Any time you get a chance to get a guy like Alain Vigneault, it’s a real positive move. He’s one of the top coaches in the league.”
Taking charge of his fourth NHL team, Vigneault replaces Scott Gordon, who coached the Flyers on an interim basis after Dave Hakstol’s firing in December.
“He brings a tremendous amount of success over an extended period of time that will prove valuable to our team to take the next steps in returning the winning culture to the Philadelphia Flyers organization," Fletcher said.
The new coach will try to end a culture of falling behind early in games and starting seasons poorly, traits that have plagued the Flyers in recent years.
Vigneault’s deal is reportedly a five-year contract for $25 million, though Fletcher wouldn’t confirm it.
Fletcher, who was hired Dec. 3, called Vigneault the “right fit” for the Flyers.
The Flyers’ GM said he has “always admired” Vigneault and that is why the coaching search was so quick and why he only interviewed a handful of candidates.
Vigneault, who has a career record of 648 wins, 435 losses, 35 ties and 98 overtime losses, called it an honor to be named the Flyers’ coach.
“The history they have established and the passionate fan base has made this a first-class franchise," Vigneault said.
The Flyers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975 and have missed the playoffs in four of the last seven years, so Vigneault certainly wasn’t talking about recent history. The Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012.
Vigneault, whom Fletcher characterized as a great bench coach, led the 2011 Vancouver Canucks and the 2014 New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I’m excited to work with Chuck and the talented group of players and the prospects coming through the system,” Vigneault said, adding he wanted to “return Philadelphia to the top of the NHL landscape.”
At his year-end news conference last week, Fletcher called Gordon a “strong candidate” for the job and praised the way he got the Flyers back into playoff contention with an 18-4-2 run before they faded down the stretch. But Gordon was hired to coach the Flyers’ AHL farm team, the Phantoms, by the previous general manager, Ron Hextall, and it was expected that Fletcher would want to put his own stamp on the franchise.
Fletcher said Gordon, who had a 25-22-4 record with the Flyers, was disappointed he wasn’t hired and that “the Lehigh Valley job is his if he wants it.” He told Gordon, who did not respond to an interview request, to take some time to reflect before making a decision.
No decisions have been made on whether the assistants will return, Fletcher said. The assistants are Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill), Rick Wilson (defense), Kim Dillabaugh (goalies), and Adam Patterson (video coach).
Vigneault most recently coached the Rangers from 2013 to 2018. Before that, he spent seven seasons with Vancouver and three-plus seasons with Montreal. He will coach Team Canada, which will include the Flyers’ Sean Couturier and Carter Hart, in next month’s IIHF World Championships in Slovakia.
A native of Quebec City, Vigneault had his best coaching season in 2010-11, when he directed Vancouver to the Presidents’ Trophy with a league-high 117 points and a 54-19-9 record. The Canucks then beat Chicago, Nashville, and San Jose to reach the Cup Final, which they lost to Boston in seven games.
Vigneault, who won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 2006-07 with Vancouver, spent 42 games in the league as a defenseman for St. Louis from 1981-83 (two goals, seven points, 82 penalty minutes) before starting his coaching career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1986. His first NHL coaching job was with the expansion Ottawa Senators, as an assistant for three-plus years starting in 1992-93.
When the Rangers decided to go on an all-out rebuild, they fired Vigneault, wanting a younger coach to lead the way.
Fletcher disagreed with the notion that Vigneault shied away from young players and preferred veterans, saying many youngsters emerged for Vancouver under his watch.
“He has a tremendous track record of developing players, holding his players accountable, and instilling proper habits in his players," Fletcher said. “I think he’s one of the better bench coaches in the National Hockey League; his ability to adapt and read the game and make changes as he sees fit is top-notch."
Vigneault was fired by the Rangers after their 5-0 loss to the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on the last day of the 2017-18 season. New York went 34-39-9 -- last in the Metropolitan Division -- and missed the playoffs for the first time in Vigneault’s five years with the Rangers.