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For NHL rookie Hakstol, the right assistant coaches will be key

Dave Hakstol

Dave Hakstol


Don’t expect the surprise hiring of Dave Hakstol to be the only change to the Flyers’ coaching staff. While assistants Gord Murphy, Joe Mullen, and Ian Laperriere remain with the organization for now, GM Ron Hextall confirmed today that there could be changes.

“Dave and I are going to sit down later today and start to gather ideas about what we want, and we’ll form a staff from there,” said Hextall. “All the assistants now are still part of our staff. When we move forward here, we’ll let everyone know.

“But I think Dave and I, through our talks, it’s very important for him to have the right people, the right fit on the staff, and I feel the same way.”

Hakstol, the longtime head coach at the University of North Dakota, comes to Philadelphia with zero NHL experience. It’s only common sense that he’s going to require some guidance in that department.

Just ask Lightning coach Jon Cooper how much assistant Rick Bowness has meant to him.

“He’s meant the world to me. He taught me about the NHL,” said Cooper, who’d never been behind an NHL bench before he was hired to lead Tampa Bay.

“There is something to learn about the league, the players, where to be, when to be, how you act.

“There are just so many different things that he expedited my learning process on that. For somebody that’s had all the experiences that he’s had, it’s just soak it all in, and just the wealth of knowledge, and plus he’s an unreal guy.

“He’s just been through so many different things. It’s great to learn from him.”

For the record, Murphy is an experienced assistant coach, having spent multiple seasons in Columbus and Florida before joining the Flyers for the 2014-15 season.

Mullen has similar NHL coaching experience. A Hall of Fame player, he’s been a Flyers assistant since 2007, and he was on the Penguins’ staff before that.

Laperriere rejoined the organization in 2012. He’s been an assistant the past two seasons.

So, perhaps Hextall and Hakstol determine there’s already enough in the experience department. Maybe it’s other areas where they feel the staff needs to be supplemented.

But based on what Hextall said today, it’s unlikely the staff remains entirely in place.