BUFFALO - The Flyers gave coach John Stevens a one-year contract extension worth $650,000 today.

In expressing his enthusiasm for the job, Stevens cited Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and president Peter Luukko, and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

"It's obviously exciting for me to continue on with this group," the coach said tonight. "I can continue to build my relationship with Homer, Snider and Peter Luukko.

Talks had been going on for a while.

"It was uncomfortable for me because I wanted to focus on the team," Stevens said. "I don't like any conversations about me. It's distracting from what our job is at hand. I've been paid to coach this year. The last year of the contract became an issue for me, but it was never an issue. It does become a distraction because it was out there."

Stevens, 41, is getting $600,000 this year. He didn't think of himself as having "lame duck" status with his players. The contract was tied up in the legal department today, Stevens noted, keeping him from signing it earlier.

"John has built strong relationships with many of our young players as well as with the players that joined us over the summer," Holmgren said. "We believe that he is the right coach to lead our team in a positive direction."

Stevens is in his first full season as the team's head coach after being promoted from assistant coach on Oct. 22, 2006 - the day Ken Hitchcock was fired. Going into tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres, Stevens had a 37-55-14 record in 106 career NHL games coached.

He is the 16th head coach in club history and the fourth former Flyer to hold that position. He was named assistant coach of the Flyers on June 5, 2006.

Before joining the Flyers' staff, Stevens coached the Phantoms from 2000-01 through 2005-06. His 2005 team won the Calder Cup championship.