The Dallas Stars are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years after knocking off the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, and as seems to be the norm, there’s some Flyers flavor in the Final.
Rick Bowness is the interim head coach of the Stars. Sound familiar? Craig Berube won the Stanley Cup last season with the Blues after being named interim head coach earlier in the season. Bowness took over for former Flyers player Jim Montgomery, who was fired in December.
The Flyers' connection goes deeper: the Stars' goaltending coach is former Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese, and finally, if you look at the Stars' coaching staff celebrating after the second-round Game 7 overtime winner, you’ll see none other than former Flyers and Phantoms head coach John Stevens, now an assistant with the Stars.
For Stevens, it has been quite a ride since he was let go by the Flyers in 2009. That ride includes two Stanley Cups with the L.A. Kings, a team that featured former Flyers captain Mike Richards, as well as Jeff Carter, along with former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and current Flyers senior advisor Dean Lombardi.
“We went to L.A., I was lucky, I was there for nine years, I got to know Dean Lombardi when he worked for the Flyers [as a scout], so I had a relationship with him and obviously Terry Murray, so I owe that to the Flyers," Stevens said Tuesday night in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I had the chance to go work with [Lombardi], he obviously saw us win a championship with the Phantoms.
“We won two Cups [with the Kings], we went to the Conference Final another year — those are really special memories.”
Now this run with Dallas has produced more winning, and Stevens couldn’t be happier.
“I think one thing I learned from Philadelphia is if you’re going to work somewhere, you’re going to have the same beliefs and you want to work with good people," Stevens said. "I had that in Philadelphia, I had it in L.A., and that’s why I wanted to come to Dallas.”
It has been 11 years since he was behind the bench for the orange and black. However, the Philadelphia area is still Stevens’ home as he and his family have a summer home in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, and it’s an area very special to the now 56-year-old Stevens.
“It is home to my family, my kids grew up there, so we still think that’s home," Stevens said. "As a matter of fact, the second Cup, we brought it there because it is home to my family.”
Stevens is part of a long list of winning coaches with roots in Philadelphia. Berube won the cup in St. Louis, Rod Brind’Amour is one of the premier coaches in the NHL, Rick Tocchet won two Stanley Cups as an assistant with the Penguins before taking the head coaching job in Arizona, and the list goes on and on.
Stevens said the Flyers' footprints throughout the league are no coincidence.
“I thought the Flyers' organization molded me as a player and a coach," he said. "You get a chance to know Paul Holmgren and Bill Barber and Bob Clarke — they teach you how to be selfless and what it means to be a team.
“I always think the Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the greatest franchises in sports with Mr. [Ed] Snider at the helm. They have good people, they develop good people and they hire good people, so it’s not surprising there are a lot of connections with people in the league.”
With all the winning branches on the Flyers' tree, the organization hopes someday soon the Flyers will actually get to grow into a winner themselves and bring home a Stanley Cup.