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Flyers give head coach an extension

John Stevens didn't want to be a lame duck. Now, he isn't.

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

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

"It's obviously exciting for me to continue on with this group," the coach said last night. "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."

Stevens, 41, is getting $600,000 this year. He didn't think of himself as having lame-duck status with his players. The extension was tied up in the legal department yesterday, Stevens said, 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 having been promoted from assistant coach on Oct. 22, 2006 - the day Ken Hitchcock was fired. Going into last night'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 the position. He was named an assistant coach of the Flyers on June 5, 2006.

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