WITH CRAIG BERUBE gone, who might man the Flyers' bench next? Since general manager Ron Hextall has clamored for a complete "culture change," it's a good bet the 19th coach of the Flyers has no previous ties to the organization. Here's a peek at a few qualified candidates:
Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Playing career: Team captain at McGill University in Montreal
NHL coaching record: 2 seasons in Anaheim, 10 seasons in Detroit; 527-285-19-119 (.627)
Playoff record: 80-57 (.583), 2008 Stanley Cup champions
Why he's available: He isn't. He might not be. Babcock's contract is up after Detroit's playoff run. He wants to become the highest-paid coach in NHL history, a goal that isn't purely selfish, but one he thinks is for the good of the coaching industry. If he was going to return to the surprising Red Wings, why didn't he already re-sign?
Claim to fame: Second-fastest coach in NHL history to 500 wins, behind Scotty Bowman.
Longevity: Longest-tenured coach in the NHL, hired July 15, 2005. He is also the winningest coach in Red Wings history, passing Jack Adams.
Odd stat: First coach ever to lose Stanley Cup final Game 7s with two teams (Anaheim in 2003, Detroit in 2009).
Previous experience: Started coaching at Red Deer (Alberta) College. Moved on to WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, before another brief stint in the Canadian college circuit, then sliding over to the WHL's Spokane Chiefs for six seasons. He jumped to the AHL in 2000 with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks before being promoted to the NHL's Mighty Ducks after two playoff appearances in 2002.
International experience: Coached Canada to gold medals at the Olympics in 2010 and 2014, including a pressure-packed win in Vancouver over the United States. Member of the prestigious Triple Gold club (Stanley Cup, World Championships, Olympic gold medal).
Chief concern: None.
Why he's a fit: Babcock wins. Over the past 3 years, his teams have definitely not been the most talented, but he's squeezed every ounce out of his players to keep Detroit's impressive 24-year playoff streak intact. He's won five Central Division titles in 10 seasons, including seven consecutive 100-point seasons to start his career there. In 22 seasons of coaching (8 WHL, 2 AHL, 12 NHL), Babcock's teams have missed the playoffs only three times, and two of those came in the WHL. How does he do it? He demands accountability. He expects his team to be the hardest working.
Would he want the job: That's the $4 million question. Babcock can pick and choose his new home. Would the Flyers be his choice? Chairman Ed Snider probably can match just about any offer from Detroit, Toronto or Buffalo. If Buffalo does not win the draft lottery, the Flyers are just about as good a fit, on paper, as any. They have more pieces to build around than Toronto and Buffalo, two teams in complete teardown mode. He could lead the Flyers on a quick upswing. But does he want to work in a market with a notoriously fidgety owner in Snider? Then again, each market has its downsides; Toronto is a media circus, etc.
Complicating factor: Money. Many think Babcock simply would use offers from the Flyers, Maple Leafs or Sabres as leverage to earn that record contract to stay in Detroit. This season, the Red Wings made strides Babcock said even he did not expect. They are incredibly young and could be good for a while. Why would he want to leave?
What they're saying: "Motiviation, in my mind, is 'what's in it for me?' Now, how do you get 23 people to find what's in it for them and be on a team? You give up some individual rights for team rights, but the reality is, they all still want to be important. That's what I do: manage people. When you don't make people on your team accountable, it leads to a superstar mentality where not everyone on the team is important." - Babcock
Hometown: Melville, Saskatchewan
Playing career: 5 NHL games; 104th pick (NYI) in 1986
NHL coaching record: 7 seasons in San Jose; 311-163-66 (.637)
Playoff record: 30-32 (.483)
Why he's available: He isn't. Yet. After six straight seasons of making the playoffs and averaging 105 points, the Sharks missed this season, and both the team and McLellan might be due a change of scenery.
Claim to fame: Most games (540) coached in Sharks history.
Previous experience: Assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit from 2005-08, where he coached the forwards and the league's top-ranked power play. Helped the Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup before being hired in San Jose to replace Ron Wilson. Cut his teeth with the WHL's Swift Current Broncos as GM and head coach, also was head coach of IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks and AHL's Houston Aeros.
Key stat: Sharks averaged 246 goals-for and 213 goals-against during his six 82-game seasons, the NHL's second-best goal differential during that span.
Chief concern: McLellan's Sharks earned a reputation of "playoff busts" over the years. Despite three Pacific Division titles, San Jose was eliminated in the first round three times, including 2008-09, when they won the Presidents Trophy. In trips to the Western Conference final in 2010 and 2011, the Sharks won one game total in that round, falling to Chicago and Vancouver. Last spring, they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings, who ended up completing the comeback and went on to win the Stanley Cup. It was only the fourth time in the NHL's 97-year history a team was able to erase that deficit. Should that be a worry for the Flyers? Probably not. For the most part, his core in San Jose did not change much at all, led by Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. It's likely tied to the players, not necessarily the coach. McLellan coached Houston to a Calder Cup in 2003. His name is already etched on the Stanley Cup from 2008. Nonetheless, a lack of sustained playoff success is a demon McLellan must exorcise.
Why he is a fit: For sure, the hockey played in the East and West is different, but McLellan would bring a record of consistency - something the Flyers sorely need. Averaging 105 points a year doesn't happen by accident. Plus, the Sharks worked young players into their lineup last season, showing his patience and flexibility.
Would he want the job: More than likely.
Complicating factor: Timing. If the Flyers go all-in on the Mike Babcock sweepstakes, they might lose out on McLellan. He probably will be one of the first hires of the summer. Between the Red Wings still playing and Babcock needing time to make up his mind, it might be a while before any news shakes loose on that end.
What they're saying: "Todd's a great man, he does a great job. I've never seen a coaching staff work harder, and put in more hours and prepare a team as well as this group does. But sometimes it's just not the hard work, it also comes down to your personnel. It's just a case of, we're a good team but, can we compete with the Anaheims and the Chicago Blackhawks? We've proven that that we can on any given night. But can we do it over a long series? I don't know. We've had problems scoring at times, we've had bigger problems defending at times. So obviously, when you don't make the playoffs, it means you're not good enough." - Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson, a nine-time Stanley Cup winner.
Hometown: Hull, Quebec
Playing career: 11-year European career
NHL coaching record: None.
Coaching experience: Finishing his 11th season as head coach of the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques. His career record is 487-350-85 (.528). Also spent 2 years as head coach for the AHL's Rochester (2008-10, 73-76-11) before returning to Gatineau in 2010.
Claim to fame: Three QMJHL league championships in 11 seasons. The only season his team missed the playoffs in his career was with Rochester in 2008-09.
Why he's in the mix: Guess who captained Groulx's 2008 QMJHL championship team in 2008? Claude Giroux. Groulx is on track to fill a NHL head coaching vacancy this summer after guiding Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in January in Toronto. Many think Groulx will not return to Gatineau either way. Giroux and Groulx have remained close over the years. Other than Giroux, Groulx has guided Max Talbot, J-G Pageau, Mike Hoffman, and Tye McGinn to the NHL. He also pushed Shawn Matthias and Jason Garrison toward the big league from Rochester.
Interesting fact: The Flyers have never hired a French-Canadian head coach. His English is perfectly fine.
Chief concern: He has no NHL coaching experience. Would hiring a guy with such close connections to Giroux be a little bit like letting the inmates run the asylum? Knowing Giroux, that wouldn't be an issue. He is subservient and listens to his coaches. If anything, Groulx might help bring out the absolute best in the Flyers' star player. In a 2008 league stacked with talent, Groulx led the Olympiques to a title while Giroux was his only NHL-caliber player. Giroux netted a staggering 321 points (125 goals) in 183 QMJHL games under Groulx.
Would he want the job: Yes.
Why he might work: Groulx is likely to be hired somewhere. In fact, some thought Groulx might have left for the NHL as a midseason replacement following this year's World Juniors. If the Flyers go all-in for Babcock, fail to get him, and McLellan were gobbled up elsewhere, Groulx might be the next best guy for the job. He certainly is intriguing.
What they're saying: When explaining how he wanted Canada's world junior players to move the puck, Groulx misspoke and said "tic-tac-tao," leaving players in hysterics. During a tense moment in the gold -medal game, Groulx called a timeout and just uttered those three words. "It's amazing how something as silly as that will do in a pressure game," Canada's captain Curtis Lazar said. "You could the mood just changed. We just exhaled. That's exactly what we needed."
OTHER POSSIBILITIES AT A GLANCE:
NHL experience: 6 seasons in Pittsburgh.
Career record: 252-117-32 (.670)
Playoff record: 43-35 (.551)
Cliffs notes: Hired with 25 games to go in 2009, led Penguins on a remarkable run to the Stanley Cup. Never finished worse than second in division. Fired June 6, 2014, after new GM Jim Rutherford took over. Head coach for Team USA at 2014 Sochi Olympics. Has interest in the Flyers.
Did you know? Bylsma is the fastest coach ever to 200 and 250 NHL wins.
NHL experience: 3 seasons in Tampa Bay.
Career record: 97-79-20 (.546)
Playoff record: 11-7 (.611)
Cliffs notes: Currently coaching in Switzerland. Employed a disciplined trapping system, which led to a memorable standoff between Peter Laviolette and the Flyers at Amalie Arena on Nov. 10, 2011. Bright coaching mind. Fired March 24, 2013.
Did you know? Like Babcock, Boucher played at Montreal's McGill University, where he earned degrees in history and agricultural engineering, with a minor in environmental biology.
NHL experience: 4 seasons in New Jersey; 3 seasons in Florida.
Career record: 217-200-77 (.517)
Playoff record: 14-10 (.583)
Cliffs notes: Guided Devils to 2012 Stanley Cup final. Missed playoffs in five of six full seasons. Fired as Devils coach on Dec. 26, 2014.
Did you know? DeBoer holds a dual law degree from Canada's University of Windsor and the University of Detroit.
NHL experience: 3 seasons in Montreal; 1 season in New Jersey; 8 seasons in Boston.
Career record: 470-278-10-102 (.613)
Playoff record: 61-47 (.560)
Cliffs notes: In the last four seasons, led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup (2011), Stanley Cup final (2013) and Presidents Trophy (2014). His GM, Peter Chiarelli, was fired on Wednesday, leaving his fate in the hands of Chiarelli's successor. That didn't work out so well for Bylsma last spring.
Did you know? Julien has the most playoff wins in the Bruins' 91-year history.
NHL experience: 3 seasons in Ottawa.
Career record: 114-90-35 (.553)
Playoff record: 8-9 (.471)
Cliffs notes: Fired on Dec. 8, 2014, only 18 months after winning Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year in 2012-13. Another Babcock disciple. Started with him as an assistant in Anaheim before moving to Detroit, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2008. Also scored 324 goals in 713 NHL games as a player.
Did you know? MacLean was born in Grostenquin, France, while his parents served in the Canadian Armed Forces.