DALLAS – Scott Gordon has made himself a candidate to become the Flyers’ head coach, club president Paul Holmgren said as he watched the team practice at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday morning.
Since Gordon replaced Dave Hakstol on Dec. 17 and became the interim coach, the Flyers have gone 25-19-4, including a surprising 18-4-2 run that put them within three points of a playoff spot with 13 games left.
The Flyers, however, have faded down the stretch, winning just three of their last 10 games heading into Tuesday’s game in Dallas and missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last seven years.
“There’s no question Scott has done a good job,” Holmgren said. “I like the way he’s handled things. We’ve looked good at times and we’ve struggled at times, too, but I think Scott’s done a good job of coming in under not the greatest circumstances.”
Holmgren said it is ultimately general manager Chuck Fletcher’s decision on whom gets hired. Fletcher was en route to Dallas and not available to comment.
“That will be up to Chuck, but Scott has certainly worked himself into the mix,” Holmgren said.
While Gordon has made himself a candidate, the Flyers are believed to have Joel Quenneville, who led Chicago to three Stanley Cups, at the top of their wish list. Quenneville has 890 career victories, the second-most in NHL history, behind only Scotty Bowman’s 1,244 wins.
Other candidates figure to include Alain Vigneault, who has a 648-435-35-98 NHL career record and has gone to two Stanley Cup Finals; Detroit assistant Dan Bylsma, who won a Cup directing the Penguins in 2008-09 and later spent two years as the Sabres’ head coach; Guy Boucher, the former coach at Tampa Bay and Ottawa; and Bob Hartley, who coached Colorado to a Cup in 2001 and also coached Atlanta and Calgary. Hartley is coaching in Russia’s KHL.
Former Flyers defenseman Luke Richardson, a Montreal assistant who has been an AHL head coach in Binghamton, is a dark-horse candidate.
Samuel Morin and Justin Bailey returned to the Flyers’ lineup Tuesday and Radko Gudas and Phil Varone were healthy scratches. ... Brian Elliott will start Thursday against his former team in St. Louis, and Carter Hart will get the call in the season finale Saturday night against visiting Carolina. ... Gordon praised the work of assistant coach Ian Laperriere, whose penalty-killing unit has excelled over the last four months. “I really like what we do down ice and on entries," Gordon said. "I like pressure on the puck, and I think there were times when I first got here we were picking and choosing the times to go [toward a player]. ... The other thing was getting our defensemen to play more on the strong-side post versus the weak-side-post.”