Flyers GM Fletcher wants to find right fit in new coach
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers need a new coach. And they need to get younger. Find more talent. Spark interest in a sagging fanbase.
Oh, is that it?
It’s just the start of the long list of what promises to be a long offseason for the Flyers after what was on the short list of worst seasons in franchise history.
General manager Chuck Fletcher is on the clock.
Fletcher’s offseason rebuild that was supposed to send the Flyers into the playoffs this season was a flop and they won only 25 games. The Flyers fired coach Alain Vigneault in December and interim coach Mike Yeo isn’t coming back after the Flyers closed the season with nine losses in 11 games.
“We are going to sit down, try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all options open,” Fletcher said Tuesday. “Maybe look at it from a little broader perspective. I do not think we are at a loss at all. Clearly, we have to sit down and really drill down what we want in terms of what we are looking for.”
What are they looking for? A coach with the patience to play young players if the Flyers try their hand at a rebuild? Or a proven winner if the Flyers try and go for a quick fix?
Flyers chairman David Scott said in January that he didn’t think the franchise needed a three-to-five year plan and there was enough of a proven core to turn the team into a winner. Scott said he would give Fletcher “a blank check” to fix the Flyers.
Fletcher noted Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Travis Sanheim and goalie Carter Hart as key pieces of the future — key pieces of a team that was last in the Metropolitan Division.
The Flyers, though, have 9.5% odds at getting the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.
“It is being aggressive in all phases. Certainly, part of it is we need to get younger, we have to get more talented,” Fletcher said. “We have to get faster. We have to aggressively look at trades, free agency, and can we add a couple players to supplement what we have here and make this team better. Another element will obviously be the return to health of certain players.”
Fletcher said he won’t be pressured into making a coaching decision.
“I think we are aware of the calendar, but the important thing is to get the right coach,” he said. “Get the right fit and the right chemistry. As long as it takes is what we will take.”
Once a team with one of the more ferocious home-ice advantages in the NHL, the Flyers routinely played to crowds of less than 10,000 in the Wells Fargo Center. The atmosphere was as dreary as the play on the ice and sharing the building with the 76ers - who pack the arena and have made it a place to be in the NBA — doesn’t help the Flyers’ standing as the No. 4 team in Philly.
The formula is easy: No playoff games, less revenue. The Flyers missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since a string of five straight absences from 1990-94.
“Of course, the revenue is a concern, but the bigger concern is getting the club to be more competitive, ”Fletcher said. “Revenues will follow as we get better. Our focus is on getting the best hockey team possible so fans do want to come back. The pressure is about winning and not necessarily on revenues. ”
The Flyers played without a team captain after they traded franchise cornerstone Claude Giroux to Florida at the trade deadline. The “C” on the sweater is an important role in the NHL, but no decision has been made on the next to serve.
“That’s about No. 20 on our list right now. We’ll get into that,” Fletcher said. “My assumption is we’ll get through this summer, get closer to training camp, sit down and make that assessment. The years I’ve been around it’s typically a management-coaching type of decision, but every time I’ve been involved.”