Who could be the Flyers’ next coach? Here’s a list of top candidates | Sam Carchidi
General managers, such as the Flyers’ Chuck Fletcher, like to put their imprint on things when with a new team.For that reason, my gut says Scott Gordon will not be promoted from interim to head coach.
General managers, such as the Flyers’ Chuck Fletcher, like to put their imprint on things when with a new team.
For that reason, my gut says Scott Gordon — though he nurtured many of the current Flyers when they were with the AHL’s Phantoms and he is extremely qualified to be behind an NHL bench — will not be promoted from interim to head coach.
Gordon’s only drawback may be that he was hired by Ron Hextall, Fletcher’s predecessor, as the Lehigh Valley coach before the 2015-16 season.
Maybe Fletcher overlooks that fact and makes Gordon the head coach — a move, by the way, that the players want to see happen.
More likely: Fletcher picks his coach.
Highly regarded Todd McLellan appears headed to Buffalo or Los Angeles, so he is not in this list of candidates, listed alphabetically:
Boucher, 47, coached Tampa Bay and Ottawa (Ottawa!) to conference finals, where they suffered gut-wrenching Game 7 losses.
In Ottawa, he was fired late this season, but don’t hold that against him. He was coaching a mess of a team.
Boucher coached Flyers star Sean Couturier at powerhouse Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and he has had success coaching on the international level. He emphasizes defense, and he coached for parts of three years in Switzerland before getting the Senators job.
If Bylsma is hired, cue Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic.”
Bylsma, 48, is best known as the coach of the Penguins, the Flyers’ hated rival. Flyers fans loved to hate him when he coached Pittsburgh, especially when he got into a shouting match with coach Peter Laviolette, who tried to climb over the bench to get at him late in a 2012 game.
Fletcher hired Bylsma to coach the Penguins’ AHL team in 2008-09, and later that season, he became Pittsburgh’s coach and led the team to the Stanley Cup.
Bylsma, currently a Detroit assistant, has a 320-190-55 career record with Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
» READ MORE: Could Dan Bylsma be the next Flyers coach?
Gordon, 56, is both demanding and nurturing, a combination not seen in many coaches.
A student of the game and an expert communicator, Gordon directed the Flyers back into playoff contention with an 18-4-2 run. That followed an expected slow start as, at the beginning of his stint, there were few empty dates and full practices to implement his new system.
Gordon, who went 25-22-4 with the Flyers this season and got improvement from most of his young players, is a much better coach than when he directed the Islanders from 2008-09 to 2010-11. He checks a lot of the boxes needed for someone to coach a young team -- except he wasn’t hired by the new GM.
An assistant with Montreal and a former Flyer, Richardson, 50, is a dark horse candidate.
He has never been an NHL head coach, but he has been involved in the NHL for 26 years, including 21 seasons as a defenseman.
A defensive specialist, Richardson has paid his dues as an assistant with three teams (Islanders, Ottawa, Montreal) and as a head coach with Binghamton in the AHL.
He won two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles while Dean Lombardi was the GM. Lombardi is now a Flyers senior adviser to the general manager. Do the dots connect?
Maybe. Then again, Sutter, 60, has a penchant for leaning on veterans, and the Flyers will have a young team next season, especially on defense.
In his coaching career with Chicago, San Jose, Calgary, and the Kings, Sutter has a 634-467-101-83 record.
He is a senior adviser for Seattle’s expansion franchise, but if he gets the coaching bug, Tippett, 57, would be a solid choice.
Tippett won the Jack Adams award as the league’s best coach in 2009-10, leading the Coyotes to a 50-25-7 record and the first of three consecutive playoff appearances. Despite franchise instability, he had Arizona in the conference final in 2011-12, but his last five teams didn’t make the playoffs
Prior to coaching eight seasons in Arizona (282-257-83 record), Tippett had a successful six-year stint with Dallas, compiling a 271-156-28-37 record. His 553 career wins are 22nd in NHL history
Tippett, a left winger for the Flyers in his final NHL season (1993-94), directed eight of his 14 teams into the playoffs.
He is tied for 12th in NHL history in wins (648-435-35-98 record), compiled with Montreal, Vancouver, and the Rangers. Seven of his teams finished first in their division and two reached the Stanley Cup Finals, so the pedigree is there.
But his last coaching impression was this: Vigneault was fired by the Rangers after they finished last in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points in 2017-18, the first time the Blueshirts had missed the playoffs since 2009-10.
To be fair, the Rangers went on rebuilding mission and dealt several veterans that season, including Rick Nash , J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, and Ryan McDonagh.
Vigneault, 57, will coach Canada at the IIHF World Championship next month in Slovakia and will have Dave Hakstol as one of his assistants.