Flyers

Flyers hire Kris Knoblauch as assistant coach to replace fired Joe Mullen

Flyers hire Kris Knoblauch as assistant coach to replace fired Joe Mullen

Ron Hextall said he would get around to hiring Joey Mullen's replacement sometime after the NHL Scouting Combine.

And he did.

The Flyers' general manager tabbed Kris Knoblauch as Dave Hakstol's new assistant coach Wednesday morning. He will handle the Flyers' power play.

The 38-year-old Knoblauch had been the head coach of the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League since 2012.

"Kris has had great success at the junior level with the Erie Otters and Kootenay Ice," Hextall said. "He's coached a lot of good young offensive gifted players. We feel he is a real good fit with our group and we're excited to have him in our organization."

Under Knoblauch, the Otters have had four consecutive 50-win seasons. They won the OHL this past spring before losing the Memorial Cup final to Windsor.

"He has an excellent skill set and is a very good fit for our staff and team," Hakstol told CSNPhilly.com.

The Flyers struggled this season on the power play under Mullen, finishing 14th overall in the NHL. The PP units ranked first (25 percent efficiency) during the Flyers' 10-game winning streak on Dec. 10, then went through a second-half collapse (5 for 50 in March alone).

During Mullen's decade-long tenure here, the Flyers' power play finished among the NHL top 10 seven times. Five times, it was in the top five, finishing No. 1 overall in 2011-12.

Despite the man-advantage's unpredictability this season, Brayden Schenn finished tied atop the league in power-play goals with 17, while Wayne Simmonds had 16.

Claude Giroux, another first-unit PP member, finished fourth in the league with 31 power-play points and third with 26 power-play assists.

Knoblauch knows something about power plays. His Erie clubs led the OHL in power-play efficiency in consecutive seasons, 2013-14 and 2014-15, and were second in the OHL in each of the last two seasons.

Erie ranked among the top three in power-play scoring during each of Knoblauch's four full seasons.

"I'm very excited not only for a chance to coach in the National Hockey League but also to join an organization like the Flyers and to work with Ron and Dave and the rest of the staff," Knoblauch said.

"It's a great opportunity and I'm really looking forward to getting started."

Some familiar names under Knoblauch: Edmonton center Connor McDavid played under him from 2012 to 2015. So did Washington's Andre Burakovsky in 2013-14 and Arizona's Dylan Strome (2013 to 2017).

In all, 19 NHLers have played for him in Erie. American right winger Ivan Lodnia, who played this season, is ranked 36th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for this month's draft in Chicago.

Knoblauch, who was born in Imperial, Saskatchewan, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Islanders in 1997, but never played in the NHL.

Instead, he played four seasons in the Western Hockey League, then five seasons at the University of Alberta, where he won a national championship in 2000. He spent a short time as a pro in the CHL (2004) and in Europe (2005).

Most recently, he served as an assistant coach for Team Canada at this year's IIHF World Junior Championship.

Knoblauch was also head coach of Team Canada Red at the 2015 U-17 World Hockey Challenge and an assistant for Team Canada Pacific at the 2010 U-17 World Hockey Challenge.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slash to Mathieu Perreault

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slash to Mathieu Perreault

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was suspended 10 games Sunday night by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his slashing penalty to the back of the neck of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault.​

The incident occurred 9:50 in the first period of the Winnipeg game that saw Gudas receive a five-minute major and a 10-game misconduct as a result of the play.

Gudas has already served one game of that suspension, as he sat out Saturday’s home game against the Calgary Flames awaiting Sunday morning’s phone hearing.

Gudas will forfeit just over $408,000 as a result of his actions. The Flyers defenseman won’t be eligible to return to the lineup until Dec. 12 when the Flyers host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This marks the longest suspension of Gudas’ career. He was slapped with a six-game suspension for his blow to Bruins forward Austin Czarnik in a 2016 preseason game. His first suspension in a Flyers sweater came back on Dec. 2, 2015, when he received three games for an illegal check to the head of Senators center Mika Zibanejad.

The suspension may ultimately help Gudas, who has appeared to be favoring his shoulder in recent games, limiting his ability to deliver his typical bone-jarring hits.

Flyers to host Penguins at Linc in 2019

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Flyers to host Penguins at Linc in 2019

The Flyers will host the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23, 2019, as part of the ongoing Stadium Series, the NHL announced Sunday night.

The 2019 “Battle of Pennsylvania” is a renewal of the first outdoor game between the two divisional rivals that saw the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field on Feb. 25, 2017.

“On behalf of the Philadelphia Flyers, we are thrilled to host the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said.

“Lincoln Financial Field will provide a perfect setting for these cross-state opponents and their passionate fan bases,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

For a Flyers franchise in search of its first win outdoors, the 2019 game will mark the fourth outdoor game in team history. The Flyers played the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Winter Classic, losing 2-1. In 2012, the Flyers hosted their very first Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in a game that saw the New York Rangers win, 3-2.

With seven Stanley Cups between the two storied franchises, the Flyers and Penguins have produced some of the game’s greatest players, and details are still being worked out for an alumni event that will likely be held in Pittsburgh after a similar game was played at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 14, 2017, as part of their 50th anniversary celebration.

A Comcast Spectacor executive said other games, such as a Penn State collegiate game or an AHL event involving the Phantoms, could eventually be played prior to the Flyers-Penguins game, but those specifics still have to be worked out. 

“There is no doubt that the Penguins and Flyers will put on a great show for the passionate fans in Philadelphia, and those watching at home, adding to the history between these two teams,” Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, said.

On Saturday, the NHL announced the Chicago Blackhawks would host the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Winter Classic on Jan. 1, at Notre Dame Stadium.