Chuck Fletcher has his guy.
A week after opening the process to identify the Flyers' next head coach, the general manager named his new leader: Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault was hired as the club's 21st head coach Monday, signing a multi-year contract. He has 1,216 games of NHL head coaching experience and was last with the Rangers from 2013-18. Vigneault won the Jack Adams Award in 2006-07 with the Canucks.
"We are extremely excited to have Alain join this franchise and lead our team behind the bench for many years to come," Fletcher said in a statement released by the team. "He brings a tremendous amount of success over an extended period of time that will prove valuable to our team to take the next steps in returning the winning culture to the Philadelphia Flyers organization."
The Flyers finished the 2018-19 season with a 37-37-8 record and 82 points, their fewest in a full season since 2006-07, when the team went a dreadful 22-48-12 for 56 points. The Flyers fired Dave Hakstol on Dec. 17 after a 12-15-4 start and finished under interim head coach Scott Gordon, who went 25-22-4 behind the bench.
Vigneault's job won't be easy as frustration has built with the Flyers' lack of playoff success over the last seven seasons. The team hasn't made the postseason in consecutive years since 2010-12, when it last won a series.
"It is an honor to be selected as the next head coach of the Flyers," Vigneault said in a statement released by the team. "The history they have established and the passionate fan base has made this a first-class franchise. I am excited to work with Chuck, the talented group of players, and the prospects coming up through the system in order to return Philadelphia to the top of the NHL landscape."
The Flyers were quick in hiring Vigneault. They had to be because there truly is no offseason and other clubs were in search of head coaches, as well. The Panthers didn't wait at all in hiring Joel Quenneville just one day after the conclusion of the regular season.
With Vigneault, the Flyers get a lot of experience. The 57-year-old has coached two teams to the Stanley Cup Final — the Canucks in 2011 and the Rangers in 2014. His résumé includes three seasons of 50-plus wins and eight with 100-plus points. The Flyers have won 50 or more games in a season five times, with the 1985-86 team the last to do it. They haven't accumulated 100 or more points in a season since 2011-12 (see more in 5 takeaways).
Gordon had an uphill climb to win the job. A GM coming from outside of the organization typically puts his stamp on a team by hiring his guy for the head coaching position.
Summoned from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, Gordon had the Flyers in the playoff race with an 18-4-2 stretch from Jan. 14 to March 11. However, the team ran out of gas and reverted back to bad habits over a 3-10-0 finish.
The statuses of Gordon and assistant coaches Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill), Rick Wilson (defensemen) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies) are unclear. On a conference call Monday night, Fletcher said no decisions have been made yet regarding the assistant coaches. He also said the Phantoms head coaching job was Gordon's if he wants it, but advised Gordon to take some time on his decision for 2019-20.
"The way I operate is I usually work with the head coach on naming the assistant coaching staff," Fletcher said last Monday. "I take a lot of direction from the head coach and just make sure we're sort of in agreement on them. Once we get the head coach, we'll work quickly on that."
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