VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Dave Hakstol coached his 277th game behind the Flyers' bench Saturday night, and quite possibly his last one.
The third-longest tenured coach in franchise history is well aware of what’s being whispered and what’s flying around on social media and message boards after losing the final four games of this road trip.
Now it appears Hakstol’s time in Philadelphia is coming to the end of the road.
“I know everything that is out there,” Hakstol said before the Flyers' 5-1 loss to the Canucks (see observations). “You know me well enough by now. I know everything in terms of the rumors and what’s going on out there. My only concern is what we do, and the rest, I have no real comment on.”
Sportsnet Canada’s Chris Johnston reported on Hockey Night in Canada, “With the Flyers wrapping up their road trip in Vancouver, it could be one where Chuck Fletcher is forced to make a change.”
Fletcher is at a crossroads. He turned down media requests and wouldn’t comment on any rumors regarding the status of his head coach, but the pressure to make moves only intensifies.
The week started with speculation that Fletcher was looking to upgrade the roster before the holiday freeze that goes into effect next week (see story), but that doesn’t address a more immediate concern.
Even if upper management feels as if Hakstol isn’t to blame for the myriad of problems, most notably the revolving door of injuries surrounding the goaltenders, how can you put the same coach behind the bench when the Flyers return home Tuesday against the Red Wings and face a passionate fan base demanding changes?
It’s a scene and situation that could turn ugly rather quickly.
“I have no control over that,” Scott Laughton, who scored the Flyers' only goal, said. “We’ve got to focus on what we can do to bring this locker room together and help our team win. It’s a sh---y feeling. That’s not my decision or anything to do with me. We've got to get back home and fix this quickly.”
“I’m not the one to judge,” Radko Gudas said. “We let our goalies down, we let our fans down, we let everybody down. It’s not on [Hakstol’s] shoulders entirely. It’s the fault of ours.”
There’s faulty defense for starters. From the final 30 minutes in Winnipeg to the final 90 seconds in Calgary to the opening 12 minutes in Vancouver. The Flyers have seen games unravel in various forms lately.
“I don’t know what hockey gods we pissed off, but we’re getting some tough bounces and some untimely situations,” Jordan Weal said. “It’s tough sledding right now and we’re going to have to stick together.”
Which has been the oft-repeated message from the head coach.
At this stage, how can you not find a new messenger?
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