Flyers fire Dave Hakstol: 5 takeaways from Chuck Fletcher's press conference

Flyers fire Dave Hakstol: 5 takeaways from Chuck Fletcher's press conference

The Dave Hakstol era ended Monday when the Flyers fired the head coach 31 games into the 2018-19 season (see story).

General manager Chuck Fletcher discussed the decision and much more during a press conference at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Here are the top five takeaways from the 17-minute session:

1. Not so fast on Quenneville

Joel Quenneville has been the sexy name to become the Flyers' new head coach ever since he was fired by the Blackhawks on Nov. 6.

Yes, nearly six weeks before Hakstol's firing, Quenneville was on everyone's radar and understandably so — the Flyers were off to yet another slow start in Year 4 under Hakstol and a three-time Stanley Cup champion head coach was put on the market.

According to a report Sunday by Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, Quenneville was offered the Flyers' position and had accepted.

Fletcher refuted that report.

First of all, he remains under contract to the Chicago Blackhawks. I can confirm I have not asked for permission from Chicago to speak with Joel for the reasons I just mentioned. I have not spoken with Joel, I haven't spoken with Joel in probably over two years. I shot him a text a few months ago after he was let go, just wishing him well.

I'm not trying to be coy, I'm being as honest as I can — 100 percent, I've never spoken with Chicago to ask for permission.

This doesn't mean Quenneville isn't in the Flyers' picture — he should be and it would be shocking if he wasn't.

But naming a new head coach is not in the works for this season, because …

2. 'Until I know what I'm looking for, I can't find it'

The Flyers are moving forward with Scott Gordon on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

"My expectation is that Scott will be the coach for the rest of the year," Fletcher said.

Why is that? Well, Fletcher is only two weeks on the job and is still learning about the players on the current roster and how they'll best respond to a certain type of coach. Fletcher likes Gordon because he has been in the organization as the head coach of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and also brings NHL coaching experience. 

"People I respect rave about his character, his preparation, his intellect," Fletcher said.

"I'm trying to identify what characteristics we need in a head coach to make this team successful and, in all honesty, I'm not sure how long that will take. Until I know what I'm looking for, I can't find it. At this point, everybody's a candidate going forward."

This is a good idea. At this point, the 2018-19 season might even be a wash (although Fletcher and the players won't agree with that belief because, ultimately, the playoffs are the goal).

But why rush the decision? Allow Fletcher to perform an extensive search and process in finding the right fit. Also, at the end of the season, the landscape of available coaches will be much broader and clearer, so patience is wise in this situation.

3. Why Hakstol is out

The player-coach relationship is an important one for Fletcher.

There was obviously a breakdown in that regard with Hakstol and the roster — or at least the head coach's message and methods were no longer resonating with the players.

"I came away tremendously impressed with Dave as a human being, but to my eyes, there was a disconnect between what he was preaching and how the players were playing," Fletcher said. "As the leader of the team, that responsibility falls on him and I felt at this point, we needed a new voice.

"There's obviously an onus on the players to buy into what the coach is saying and I addressed that with the players today before practice."

All of which is why Fletcher has to be as precise as possible in his search and new hire.

While some would debate if Hakstol lost his players, Fletcher said he wasn't concerned about effort and heart.

"Dave tried, Dave was prepared, Dave's smart, Dave's a good coach," Fletcher said.

"When the message wasn't received, you just get to a point where this is what happens — you make a change.

"I recognize our inconsistencies, but I recognize our talent. They believe in each other, they compete hard. Our compete isn't the issue. … We have to find a way not to make the game so hard some nights. And that's our challenge."

On a separate note, Fletcher said the team has no intention right now to replace assistant coaches Rick Wilson (defensemen), Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies).

4. Hart here to stay?

About two hours before the Flyers fired Hakstol, they recalled 20-year-old goalie Carter Hart, which created a social media storm of mixed reactions (see video). But reading between the lines, it doesn't necessarily sound as if Fletcher plans on keeping Hart with the Flyers long term.

We have some injuries in goal. Honestly, we've tried every goalie in our organization. It's probably not the ideal time to give Carter a game, but Carter's playing really well and he's a professional hockey player. He's a strong kid mentally. He'll go in and give his best. He'll go in and give his best. I have no worries about Carter Hart long term. He's going to be a very good goalie for this franchise.

The Flyers' goaltending situation is, in a word, wacky. Between injuries and strictly abysmal netminding, they've already used five goalies. If Hart plays a game, it will be a franchise-record six.

Fletcher provided an injury update on Brian Elliott, who's been out since Nov. 16 with a lower-body injury, and it certainly doesn't sound promising.

"It's more than week to week," Fletcher said. "I don't want to characterize it as month to month, so how about we say I don't expect him prior to Jan. 1, and we'll see after that."

When asked if Hart would be here for the meantime or for a game or two, Fletcher said, "That will remain to be seen."

The door remains open that Fletcher adds a veteran goalie before the roster freeze goes into effect Wednesday at midnight. Until then, Hart is here, but that very well could change too.

5. Let's make a deal?

It's no secret that Fletcher has had a busy two weeks on the job and it's certainly not slowing down any time soon. No one would be surprised if the Flyers made a trade before midnight Wednesday.

But Fletcher didn't sound like a GM who's going to make a move before Dec. 19 for the sake of making a move. He said he's identified areas the Flyers need to improve but the "timing is difficult."

"You have to be careful sometimes with sample size," Fletcher said. "You watch five, six games and you know, you see guys get six goals in six games and then the next six they get zero, so I want to be a little bit careful about what I've seen is really how the players are."

The Flyers are expected to be major players in the trade market this season, but while Fletcher reportedly would like to make a move before the roster freeze, it didn't sound like something was imminent.

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With newcomers, Flyers keep on humming in NHL playoff race, have Penguins in their sights

With newcomers, Flyers keep on humming in NHL playoff race, have Penguins in their sights


A day after the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers showed off their new look and didn't miss a beat.

With reinforcements Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, the Flyers defeated the Sharks, 4-2, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (36-20-7) have won four straight games, their longest win streak since Dec. 17-23, when they also won four in a row.

Not many in the league have been better than the Flyers over their last 20 games. The Flyers are 14-5-1 with an NHL-high 72 goals since Jan. 8. Over that stretch, only one club has more points than the Flyers' 29 — the Lightning with 31.

The Sharks (26-33-4), who have a number of injuries and traded away Barclay Goodrow and Patrick Marleau before Monday's deadline, have lost five straight.

• Good work by the Flyers handling a lesser opponent.

Tuesday was a big night in the playoff race as the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes were all in action

The Flyers are still in third place of the Metropolitan Division and climbed to within one point of the second-place Penguins.

• The new line of Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny sure was fun to watch.

During the second period, Hayes and Konecny scored goals to help the Flyers restore order with a 3-1 lead at intermission.

Hayes tacked on another in the third period, giving him 21 markers this season. The 27-year-old is projected to break his career high of 25 set in 2017-18 and he might flirt with 30.

On Hayes' first goal, the 6-foot-5 center used his impressive reach to snag Laughton's pass and bury the shot. The Flyers are 17-0-1 when Hayes scores a goal.

Meanwhile, Konecny finished with his third three-point effort over the last four games. He had two three-point games over his first three NHL seasons.

Laughton continued his always reliable play with two assists and a plus-3 mark.

• Grant and Thompson, both acquired by the Flyers Monday, were eased into duty.

Both went scoreless as Grant committed a penalty and was solid in the faceoff circle, while Thompson centered the fourth line.

Here's how they're getting acclimated (see story).

• At home, Carter Hart has been an absolute nightmare for opponents.

With 26 saves, he improved his home mark to 17-2-2.

The 21-year-old has yielded two or fewer goals in 17 of his 21 home games. He is a must-see ticket in Philly.

• Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim made clutch third-period plays to break up juicy scoring chances for the Sharks.

• Nicolas Aube-Kubel has six goals this season. He has turned into one of the biggest surprises since his mid-December call-up.

Last season, he went scoreless over nine outings, playing just 5:35 minutes per game.

• A beautiful job by the Flyers.

• The Flyers are off Wednesday and practice Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Rangers Friday night (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Don't like the Phillie Phanatic's new look? Gritty has a message for you

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When Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic met in September 2018 at Citizens Bank Park, a special bond was born.

With his best friend from across the street under the microscope for his new look, Gritty stepped up Tuesday night in defense of the Phanatic.

During the first period of the Flyers-Sharks game at the Wells Fargo Center, Gritty had a message for anyone out there not in support of the Phanatic's fresh style.

This is what best friends do.

Good for Gritty. The Phanatic would do the same for the orange fella.

Both will be reunited at the ballyard soon.

Look out.

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