As expected, Ian Laperriere, a long-time Flyers assistant, was named the head coach of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday.
The Phantoms are the Flyers’ top minor-league affiliate, and Laperriere becomes the 11th head coach in their history.
“I’m very excited for this next challenge in my career,” Laperriere said in a statement.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Laperriere has been “an extremely dedicated individual to the Flyers organization.” He added that the man known as “Lappy” showed a “strong work ethic” as a Flyers player, development coach, and an assistant over the last 12 years.
Eight of those seasons were as a Flyers assistant.
“We are excited to have him at the forefront of developing our prospects,” Fletcher added.
Laperriere thanked the Flyers’ brass and Phantoms owners Jim and Rob Brooks for their confidence in him.
“The Phantoms are a first-class organization in the AHL, and the fan base in Lehigh Valley is the very best at showing their support at every game,” he said.
In an interview with The Inquirer a few years ago, Laperriere said he hoped to be a head coach some day and said Flyers coach Alain Vigneault was the perfect mentor.
“I’m learning a lot from AV and his demeanor, his swagger,” Laperriere said. “Call it what you want, the way he is around us and the way he is around the players. It’s something I really appreciate seeing from him. His preparation is unbelievable.
“If I ever run my own team, I’m going to take a lot of what he’s teaching right now.”
Laperriere, 47, replaces Scott Gordon, who had a 186-121-40-1 during his six years with the Phantoms. Gordon said he and Fletcher mutually agreed that it was time to move to another opportunity.
Gordon’s contract expires after next season, and Fletcher said last month he was not prepared to give him an extension at the moment, and neither side wanted a lame-duck situation next season.
Gordon, 58, said he was thankful for his time with the Phantoms and for the opportunity to coach the Flyers on an interim basis during part of the 2018-19 season.