In a stunning development, the Flyers announced Tuesday that they were parting ways with Phantoms coach Scott Gordon and called it a “mutually agreed upon decision.”
Gordon directed the Phantoms to an 18-7-6 record this season, and many of the Flyers’ young players were developed by him in the AHL. He has been a head coach with the Islanders and an interim coach with the Flyers.
The Flyers also announced that assistant Kerry Huffman had stepped down from his role.
Ian Laperriere, a Flyers assistant, is a candidate to replace Gordon, and InsideAHLHockey.com said Terry Murray -- who was the Phantoms’ head coach in their first year in in Lehigh Valley in 2014-15 -- is expected to replace Huffman.
Gordon, 58, coached the Phantoms for six seasons, a tenure interrupted by an interim stint with the Flyers in 2018-19.
In a statement, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Gordon and Huffman “have dedicated their time and effort in developing Flyers prospects and bringing success to Lehigh Valley over the last several years. In speaking with each of them, we felt this was best for the future direction of the organization.”
Gordon had one year left on his contract.
Later in the day, Fletcher said that when Huffman told him he didn’t want to coach any longer, “we were going to have to look for an assistant coach this summer. And Gordo was going into the last year of his contract next year.”
Fletcher talked with Gordon on Monday about his contract.
“Right now, I’m not sure I want to extend him beyond next year. I don’t know where the world’s going to be,” Fletcher said. “And yet, we have to hire an assistant coach this summer. We just started talking about it, and I’m not sure he would really want to be a lame duck, and I’m not sure it makes sense for us to be hiring an assistant coach if our head guy is a lame duck.”
Fletcher and Gordon then decided to mutually part ways.
“This gives him time to find the next step and he doesn’t have to be a lame duck, which I don’t think is good for either him or us,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said Gordon “did a really good job, and I thought he did a really good job in that interim season, but going forward, next year is Year 7, and if I don’t want to extend him beyond that, what’s best for him and best for us?”
The Phantoms and Gordon “did a heck of a job this year,” Fletcher said. “They had a good team, so it wasn’t like we were upset about this year.”
In a testament to Gordon’s ability to develop prospects, 14 players (excluding injury-related rehabs) on the Flyers’ end-of-season roster have played for him with the Phantoms: Wade Allison, Nic Aube-Kubel, Joel Farabee, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Carter Hart, Tanner Laczynski, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Alex Lyon, Samuel Morin, Phil Myers, Travis Sanheim, and Cam York.
In addition, three teenagers -- right wingers Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom, and defenseman Mason Millman -- had impressive rookie seasons this year with the Phantoms. Those underage players were only allowed to play in the AHL because their Ontario Hockey League seasons were wiped out by COVID-19.
Gordon, who played in 23 NHL games as a Quebec Nordiques goalie, had a 186-121-40 record (with one tie) with the Phantoms; he was 25-22-4 as the Flyers’ interim coach after Dave Hakstol was fired.
Huffman, 53, a former Flyers defenseman, joined Gordon’s staff with the Phantoms in 2016-17, and he was their interim coach when Gordon replaced Hakstol.
Gordon was among the Flyers’ candidates before Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault after the 2018-19 season.
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