With Mike Yeo gone after Alain Vigneault, what are the Flyers looking for in the next coach?

VOORHEES, NJ — The Flyers have to go back to the drawing board, even with such an important voice and direction behind the bench.

That’s how far they’ve fallen from the promising 2019-20 season in which Alain Vigneault, Chuck Fletcher’s first big hire, was runner-up for the Jack Adams (Coach of the Year) Award.

Now, less than two years later, the Flyers are back to square one, trying to figure out what kind of coach they want to turn an organization that stumbled into the bottom four of the 32-team NHL standings this season. The Flyers went 25-46-11 and missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.

At his season-ending news conference on Tuesday, Fletcher announced that Mike Yeo, who oversaw a dire situation in the interim, will not return next season as the club’s head coach.

Fletcher said the Flyers, starting Wednesday, will put together an “ideal candidate profile” as they begin the interview and hiring process for their next head coach. It is quite possible that they already had names in mind, with those names aware of the upcoming opening. After all, Vigneault was fired about five months ago and the Flyers were firmly out of contention in January.

“We’re really going to go through a very thorough discussion about what we’re trying to accomplish, what we’re looking at,” the Flyers general manager said. “At this stage, all options are open. We’re just starting the process and once we build that candidate profile, what we’re looking for, we’ll start reaching out to the candidates we want to interview.”

The Flyers’ 2018-19 season ended on April 6, and Vigneault was named head coach just nine days later. This time around, the process should and probably will take longer considering the circumstances are different, but you can bet the Flyers already have candidates lined up.

“I think we know the schedule, but the important thing is to get the right coach,” Fletcher said of a possible time frame. “Get the fit right, the chemistry right. As long as it takes, that’s what we’ll take.”

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Brochures

Chuck Fletcher addresses the media Tuesday at his season-ending news conference.

Yeo finished 17-36-7 in his interim duties. He was in a nightmarish place. The Flyers went 5-3-2 in Yeo’s first 10 games, a streak that included the best seven-game point streak of the season (5-0-2). But then the club grappled with the woes of COVID-19, as injuries piled up and got worse.

“When you have so many guys out, I don’t care, you could have Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman, no matter who your coach is, you’re not going to win, you’re not going to be successful.” “Yeo said last Friday.

Yeo, who has ties to Fletcher from his Penguins days, was a good assistant coach with the Flyers. Fletcher said the organization is interested in him staying in a different capacity.

“We dealt a very heavy hand to Mike,” Fletcher said. “He’s a good coach, I think he did a very good job given the circumstances. He kept our players competing and playing hard until the end. He made some adjustments where we started to see some progress, in particular keeping the puck a little bit plus, zone tackles, we were scoring a little bit better 5v5 at the end of the year. It was a heavy hand we gave him, all things considered… He’s the kind of guy I’d love to keep in the organization going forward.

“Obviously, he’s free to talk to other teams right now and see what options there are. Depending on how things go in the next six weeks on his side, our side, I’d love to find him an opportunity, whether it’s coaching, team development. players, front office, scouting. He’s a good hockey man, he’s got a lot of experience, a lot of good ideas and obviously he’s got a lot of first-hand information about our players and the environment.”

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Brochures

Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo address the media on December 6.

One of the many troubling aspects of the Flyers’ freefall is that coaches of the caliber of Vigneault and Yeo couldn’t keep the club afloat. Vigneault, 60, has plenty of experience, as he has been to the Stanley Cup Final twice and ranks eighth in all-time wins. Yeo, 48 years or older as a practical coach, has reached the playoffs four times and won three series.

Before Fletcher’s days in Philly, the Flyers went the unconventional route with Dave Hakstol, who was hired fresh out of college and considered for player development after his success at North Dakota.

Are the Flyers hardly knowing what kind of coach they want right now?

“Not at all,” Fletcher said. “We’ll sit down and try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all the options open, maybe look at it from a little bit of a broader perspective. But I don’t think we’re lost at all. Clearly we have to sit down and really dig into it. terms of what we’re looking for. I’m sure there will be a lot of quality candidates that we’ll talk to.”

Preferred coaching styles may be cyclical. When you join, you hope it sticks around as long as possible: players buy and the message has staying power.

The Flyers should have intriguing options. Some familiar names that could be candidates include Rick Tocchet, Paul Maurice, John Tortorella, Jim Montgomery and Dave Tippett.

“There are certainly a lot of areas where we need to improve as a team,” Fletcher said. “You go back to that first season, ’19-20, we played great, we played the right way. Before the hiatus, we were one of the best teams in the league, we had the puck, the process was good, the results were good. We were clicking. Clearly, the last two seasons, for various reasons, we just haven’t been able to get back to that level. That’s certainly our goal.”

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