VOORHEES, N.J. — On April 18, 2019, Alain Vigneault was asked about the frustrations among fans with the Flyers' current state.
It was the day general manager Chuck Fletcher and the team introduced Vigneault as the Flyers' new head coach.
"I understand people's disappointment, but I would say that's all behind us,” Vigneault said. “Chuck is here, he's new. I'm here, I'm new. Nothing I can do about what happened in the past — I can focus on the present and hopefully make the future what we all want it to be. I'm going to be on high alert, I'm going to work my butt off to get this done and I’m very confident that it's going to work out."
So far, the Flyers' decision to bring Vigneault on board has worked out well. That decision looked awfully good Wednesday as Vigneault was named a finalist for the 2019-20 Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year). It will look awfully great if the Flyers make a big run at the Stanley Cup in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.
"From Day 1, I felt that the veteran players of this group were looking for direction and that's basically what myself, my staff and management did," Vigneault said Wednesday. "We gave them direction, we told them this is the plan that we have, this is what you need to do to do your jobs on the ice. ... This group has progressed.
"The season's not over. We're going into the best part of the season. We've earned the right, we've made the playoffs, we've earned the right to compete for the Stanley Cup. Our business is far from over, which means my job is far from over."
Vigneault is up against Bruce Cassidy (Bruins) and John Tortorella (Blue Jackets) for the honor. The experienced 59-year-old bench boss won the award in 2006-07 with the Canucks and has finished second three times: 1999-00 (Canadiens), 2010-11 (Canucks) and 2014-15 (Rangers).
If Vigneault takes home the award, he'll become the fifth Flyers coach to do so. The other four are Fred Shero (1973-74), Pat Quinn (1979-80), Mike Keenan (1984-85) and Bill Barber (2000-01).
"This time in Philly, it's extra special. ... I'm so proud of this group."— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 15, 2020
Mentioned how proud he was of team responding to Oskar Lindblom's cancer diagnosis.
- Alain Vigneault on being Jack Adams Award finalist
(📷 by Flyers PR guru Zack Hill) pic.twitter.com/EbnpiUE0mz
Vigneault very well could be this season's front-runner. The winner will be announced during the Conference Final series, which are slated to begin Sept. 8.
In just one season, Vigneault turned the Flyers into a top-six club a year after the team finished 22nd in the NHL at 37-37-8 with 82 points, its fewest over a full campaign since 2006-07.
Through a shortened 2019-20 regular season, the Flyers went 41-21-7 with 89 points in 69 games. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the team was projected to finish with 104 to 105 points, which would have been its most since a 106-point 2010-11 campaign.
NHL's most points since Nov. 1:— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 15, 2020
1. Bruins — 80
2. Flyers — 78
2. Lightning — 78
4. Blues — 77
With the abbreviated regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak, only four teams improved their point totals from 2018-19. The Flyers made the biggest jump with a seven-point increase despite playing 13 fewer games compared to last season, while the Oilers improved by four points (79 to 83), the Avalanche by two (90 to 92) and the Rangers by one (78 to 79).
Back in April 2019, there was a lot of buzz about Joel Quenneville, and justifiably so. The Flyers were thrilled to land Vigneault and we've seen why.
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