Alain Vigneault fired by Flyers after slow start to season
Another Vigneault assistant, Michel Therrien, who was in charge of the NHL’s third-worst power play (13.4%), was also relieved of his duties.
The Flyers are currently seventh in the Metropolitan Division with an 8-10-4 record and have dropped eight in a row. They will go into Monday’s game against the Avalanche with a new coach looking to snap that streak.
Vigneault was hired in April 2019 and led them to a 147-74-54 record in parts of three seasons, which included a playoff appearance in 2020. This move is a costly one for the franchise as Vigneault has a contract that runs through the 2023-24 NHL season and pays him $5 million a year, per Cap Friendly.
Busy summer for poor results
The move from general manager Chuck Fletcher comes after an offseason where the Flyers remodeled the blue line bringing in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Risotlainen, and Keith Yandle; added Martin Jones to back up Carter Hart; shipped out Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hägg, and Nolan Patrick; and swapped one veteran (Jakub Voracek) for another (Cam Atkinson).
“We made a lot of changes in personnel last summer,” Fletcher said during Monday’s press conference. “I do believe this group can be a better team. Right now, it’s everything. I just think our details are lacking right now. Obviously, our confidence is lacking. Guys are struggling. They care. They try. Right now, I just feel like Mike can help us get back to the identity we need to have to win games.”
Fletcher’s offseason work has not paid off and has put the Flyers in a place where serious questions have to be put to the currently constructed roster and what happens now. Is 33-year-old captain Claude Giroux a trade possibility? He has a full no-move clause so he would have to approve any deal. What about James van Riemsdyk, who has a year left on a contract carrying $7 million salary cap hit?
These are some of the questions Fletcher will be facing in the coming weeks. And what about his own job? He was hired in December 2018 and his touch on the franchise has led to a decline and now a coaching change. How much more patience does ownership have before his seat starts warming up?
One name that has quickly surfaced is former Flyer Rick Tocchet, who is currently an analyst with the NHL on TNT. Tocchet parted ways with the Arizona Coyotes in May after the franchise decided against renewing his contract. He compiled a 125-131-34 record in four seasons. Before that he was an assistant with the Penguins during their back-to-back Stanley Cup championship seasons.
Bruce Boudreau is off the market after taking the Canucks job. Andrew Brunette’s done a fine job with the Panthers so those John Tortorella-to-Florida rumors that popped up following Joel Quenneville’s departure seem dead now. Is the Flyers’ job attractive enough for him to leave his ESPN gig?
There’s still time for the Flyers to salvage this season, but the direction Fletcher goes for next head coach will point to whether he’s trying to save this year (and his job) or built a foundation for the future.