Flyers

5 takeaways from Chuck Fletcher's hiring of Alain Vigneault as Flyers' head coach

5 takeaways from Chuck Fletcher's hiring of Alain Vigneault as Flyers' head coach

Chuck Fletcher needed a week to find who he wanted to spark this Flyers team, a group that underwhelmed significantly in 2018-19 and has visions of jumping right back into contention for 2019-20.

In reality, Fletcher probably had Alain Vigneault on his mind for some time. Over the course of last week, the general manager realized Vigneault was the "right fit for the Flyers" as head coach (see story).

"I think this is a great day for the Flyers' organization," Fletcher said Monday night on a conference call. "Any time you get a chance to get a guy like Alain Vigneault, it's a real positive move. He's one of the top coaches in the league and he has been for many years. We're just very excited that he's agreed to come work."

Here are five takeaways after Fletcher addressed the media:

1. Résumé speaks volumes

It's clear Fletcher was eyeing a coach with deep experience. He wasn't about to get cute with this hire.

Frankly, there isn't a lot of room for patience or error. Fletcher wants to be competitive out of the chute next season. The core's clock ticks with each year and the youth must make bigger strides. Bringing in a coach who has been there, done that was important.

The decision to hire Vigneault says a lot to upper management, which brought in Fletcher to push things forward at a much quicker rate.

The 57-year-old Vigneault owns two Stanley Cup Final appearances, three 50-win seasons and eight 100-point campaigns.

"He's always been what I've considered to be a top coach in the NHL," Fletcher said.

"He's coached for many years in this league, he's won a lot of games, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. His teams have had playoff success. He's won the Jack Adams Trophy, won the Presidents' Trophy. So certainly that track record of winning games is critical."

2. 'Holding his players accountable'

A week ago, Fletcher lamented bad on-ice habits by the Flyers, laying out a laundry list of issues that resulted in maddening inconsistency and another year of no playoffs.

Finding a coach to hone in on better fundamentals and ensuring bad habits are short-lived was obviously on the mind of Fletcher when he pursued Vigneault.

"He has a tremendous track record of developing players, holding his players accountable, instilling proper habits in his players," Fletcher said. "I think he's one of the better bench coaches in the National Hockey League. His ability to adapt and read the game and make changes as he sees fit is top notch. He's obviously a hard-worker.

"In my time with him here over the past few days, I've found out he's also a really good person and somebody that I communicated with well."

3. Faith in the Flyers

Vigneault's decision to hop on board signifies the Flyers are still an attractive destination. They aren't lacking a ton of talent, the prospect pool is promising, Philly is one of the larger markets and the fan base is devoted.

Fletcher said Vigneault was impressed by the Flyers' makeup. Both sides are in win-now mode. The fact that Vigneault chose the Flyers shows he believes in the possibilities of turning this team into a contender.

"He obviously likes our team, likes our group, and thinks there's a lot of upside here," Fletcher said.

"Alain, I think he's at a stage of his career where he wants to win, and he sees a lot of potential in our roster. Right now, it's about trying to continue to build our group and become as competitive as quickly as we can."

4. What's next for Gordon?

Similar to Dave Hakstol, Scott Gordon faced quite a tall task in trying to win over a new GM from outside of the organization.

A general manager almost always wants to hire his guy for the head coaching position. It's one of the firmest and most important imprints a GM can make on his team.

Gordon joined on the fly with little practice time throughout the schedule. He should be commended for bringing the Flyers to within three points of a playoff spot after the team was in last place of the 31-team NHL standings more than halfway through the season.

"First of all, I just want to comment that he did a good job for the Flyers," Fletcher said of his former interim head coach. "He came in under tough circumstances and I thought he did a very good job with our hockey team. When I spoke with him this morning, obviously he was disappointed. He wanted to be the head coach. I just advised him to take some time, we can talk again over the coming weeks."

Gordon said the run with the Flyers had invigorated his desire to coach in the NHL again. If anything, he earned back his previous post within the organization.

"Certainly the Lehigh Valley job is his if he wants it, but right now I don't think is the time to discuss that," Fletcher said. "I just think he needs to take some time and let everything sink in, and a few weeks down the road, we'll have another discussion as to what path he wants to go down."

5. How about the assistants?

The fates of assistant coaches Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill), Rick Wilson (defensemen) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies) don't look great.

That's what happens when a new head coach is hired. With Vigneault's experience at three different stops, he'll likely have plenty of names in mind for his assistants.

"We haven't made any decisions," Fletcher said. "We'll work together to hire the assistant coaches. We had a conversation about it; we haven't made any final determinations. We really haven't discussed a lot of names other than that we agreed we'd work together to find the right group to surround him."

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What to make of Flyers' roster moves, which have Joel Farabee on his way

What to make of Flyers' roster moves, which have Joel Farabee on his way

The Flyers challenged Joel Farabee.

The 19-year-old needed only four games to answer that challenge.

“It won't be long in the American League if he does start there,” USNTDP coach John Wroblewski said in March.

Farabee is on his way to the big club as the Flyers called up the 2018 first-round pick Sunday night, along with Mikhail Vorobyev. As a result, the Flyers sent rookie Carsen Twarynski to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Twarynski handled himself well over six games in a bottom-six role and this isn’t a demotion for the 21-year-old.

This is about the Flyers needing an early offensive jolt after losing four straight games. The Flyers outshot the opposition 91-38 over the past two games but were outscored by a combined 10-4 in consecutive regulation losses.

“At the end of the day right now, we’re having a challenging time as a group finding the back of the net,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday night.

Here comes Farabee, a point-producing winger who is a versatile goal-scorer that can play in a variety of roles. After somewhat surprisingly not cracking the Flyers’ season-opening roster, Farabee went to the Phantoms oozing with motivation.

He ripped off three goals in his first three games as a pro and added an assist Saturday night.

That was enough to tell general manager Chuck Fletcher the time was now for his call-up, especially with the Flyers having a difficult time putting the puck in the net and lacking some offensive depth.

“I had a good talk with Joel up in Europe about if he goes to Lehigh Valley with the right mindset, the right work ethic, the willingness to get better and get his game to where it needs to be, there's no doubt in my mind that at some point, if he plays well there, we'll probably see him back here,” Vigneault said Oct. 8.

Farabee will make his NHL debut Monday against the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP). Expect to see Vorobyev in the lineup, as well. The 22-year-old also brings an element of skill and playmaking. The center can play on the penalty kill and totaled two goals and two assists in five games with Lehigh Valley.

Farabee has proven to be a quick starter and riser. During his draft year with the U.S. under-18 team, he put up four goals and two assists in his opening three games. As a freshman with Boston University last season, Farabee had three goals and three assists through his first eight games.

Let’s see how quickly he can impact the Flyers.

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Can (and should) Flyers fans trust Alain Vigneault's process?

Can (and should) Flyers fans trust Alain Vigneault's process?

At his introductory press conference on April 18 following a year away from hockey, Alain Vigneault made a joke about why he was ready to get back into the coaching business.

“After a year off and figuring out that I’ll never be the golfer that I thought I would be,” Vigneault said, “it’s time for me to get back to work.”

Perhaps Vigneault had a difficult time sinking putts.

Following the Flyers’ 4-1 loss Saturday night to the Stars, he put out his hands, smiled and made an analogy in relation to his team.

The Flyers had just outshot Dallas 39-16. Over their past two games, the Flyers outshot the opposition 91-38.

A 53-shot advantage.

However, they had just four goals and two losses to show for it.

“It’s like a golfer that’s in regulation but can’t putt,” Vigneault said with a chuckle.

“The process is good. If you look at our overall game tonight, take a look at the scoring chances for and against, we had a pretty dominating performance. Right now, we’re having a tough time finishing.

“At the end of the day right now, we’re having a challenging time as a group finding the back of the net. We’re doing a lot of the right things — traffic, jamming pucks, going hard to the net. But we’re having a tough time making the other team pay for their mistakes. As far as our process and how we’re playing offensively and how we’re playing defensively, you’ve got to like our game.”

Many fans haven’t loved it. The Flyers heard boos Saturday night after the Stars’ empty-net goal in the third period. The Flyers dropped their fourth straight game, which marks the franchise’s first four-game losing streak in October since the 2014-15 season, when it opened the year 0-2-2.

While the Flyers, who are 2-3-1, have dictated games, the bottom line is they have to score goals. The really good teams create the chances but also finish them. It’s hard to sell to your fans that everything is fine, the process is good, when you’re outscored 10-4 in consecutive regulation losses. These same fans have seen too many slow Octobers. The Flyers are now 28-36-7 during this month in the last seven seasons.

Then again, this is not Vigneault’s first rodeo. It is his first chance at guiding the Flyers, who have taken on his system and looked much better in doing so.

And Vigneault certainly understands the process.

If Flyers fans want to trust him and take solace in something, consider some of Vigneault’s best teams and how they started.

The 2013-14 Rangers opened the season 2-6-0 and were 16-18-2 at Dec. 20 but went to the Stanley Cup Final. It was Vigneault’s first year in New York.

The 2006-07 Canucks — another first year on the job for Vigneault — started 8-10-1 but finished with 49 wins, 105 points and a playoff series victory.

The 2014-15 Rangers began 7-7-4 but ended up with 53 wins and the Presidents' Trophy (113 points).

The 2010-11 Canucks started 2-3-2 and were 10-7-3 after 20 games but won the Presidents' Trophy (117 points) and came one win away from a Stanley Cup title.

“I know our guys are disappointed but our work ethic, you know, we’ve got our work boots on here and we’re trying real hard,” Vigneault said of the Flyers. “As a coach, when your team is giving you 100 percent of what they have — and I believe that’s what we did again tonight — you’ve got to support your players, you’ve got to be behind them and trust them, and I’m very confident things are going to work out.”

Just how confident are Flyers fans? They’ve been patient long enough.

Vigneault will have to make sure, this time, their patience finally pays off.

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