Flyers Announce 2019-20 Coaching Staff
While we've known for nearly a month that Alain Vigneault will lead the Flyers behind the bench for the 2019-20 campaign (and hopefully for many years after), the rest of the Flyers staff for the upcoming season was full of question marks. When a new head coach is hired, it generally comes with at least one or two, if not an entire new slate of assistants. On Monday, we found some clarity on what the rest of the Flyers (and Phantoms bench will look like).
As has been tradition for Vigneault, he targeted ex-NHL head coaches to fill out the bench. His first fire is Michel Therrien, who coached Montreal from 2000-2003 and 2014-2017, as well as Pittsburgh from 2005-2009, where he made his only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to Detroit in 6 games. His teams made the playoffs in 7 of the 8 full seasons he coached, though he was fired midway through the year by the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Penguins and 2017 Atlantic Division winning Canadiens. However, he has been criticized for his relationship with players (Google his name next to P.K. Subban and you'll find all you need to know).
Mike Yeo, the other new assistant, coached the Wild from 2011-2016 and the Blues from February 2017-November 2018. Yeo made the playoffs in three of the five full seasons he has coached, but his last tenure with St. Louis ended on an ugly note that has only aged worse with the Blues now one win away from the Western Conference Finals. However, the role of an assistant coach is much different than being a head coach, and given their level of experience it isn't a far stretch to say that Therrien and Yeo could both have success, especially since Yeo was in Pittsburgh at the same time as Therrien.
Kris Knoblauch and Rick Wilson will not be back. Knoblauch was hyped up as a future head coaching prospect when he came to Philadelphia in 2017 from the Erie Otters, but the Flyers power play has been a mediocre 18th (19%) under his guidance, with the second unit struggling much like before. Wilson, on the other hand, came on midseason, and actually appeared to do a very good job running the Flyers defense. His loss may be the most significant news of the day.
Elsewhere, PK coach Ian Laperriere, goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh, and video review coach Adam Patterson will all return. Laperriere's PK may have only ranked 25th in the NHL since he came to Philadelphia as a coach in 2013. But from December 18th (the day Hakstol was fired) to the end of this season, the Flyers penalty kill was actually the 10th best in the league at 82.2%, suggesting Lappy's PK has turned a corner.
Lastly, Scott Gordon has agreed to return to his previous role as head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he is 144-86-15-9 since arriving in 2015. Kerry Huffman, who took over for Gordon while he was coaching the Flyers, will also return to his prior role as Gordon's assistant.
UPDATE: The Flyers have announced the roles of their new hires. Therrien will run the power play in place of Knoblauch, and Yeo will take over Wilson running the defense and Laperriere in charge of the penalty kill. Laperriere will now be in a prescouting role, serving as an "ice in the sky" according to The Inquirer's Sam Carchidi.