VOORHEES, N.J. — Rick Wilson has been around quite a bit.

He owns over 30 years of NHL coaching experience, has served seven different teams and won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.

The 68-year-old knows a thing or two about coaching.

And he believes in the Flyers' coaches, a staff that is essentially in audition mode with a new general manager taking over the reins. The 2018-19 Flyers have underperformed, which is a major reason why Ron Hextall no longer has a job and why Chuck Fletcher was being introduced at a press conference Wednesday.

The coaching staff is now fighting for its future in the Flyers' organization. Gord Murphy was let go last week after Hextall's firing and before Fletcher's arrival.

Now Wilson is on board, fresh out of retirement. He has been impressed by head coach Dave Hakstol and assistants Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies), a group that has been under heavy outside criticism for the Flyers' shortcomings through 25 games this season.

"I love working with these young coaches, it's a good coaching staff — really good coaching staff," Wilson said Wednesday after his first practice. "They're younger and they know the new elements in the game — the video elements, the computer side of things, the analytics.

"You've got to work together. It's part of a team, that's what I've always been a part of. There's no single answer to anything that's going on around here — not one single answer." 


Wilson is more of an old-school guy embracing the new age of coaching but never losing his approach.

"I come in, I bring in my own computer, which is here (points to head). It's still working, it still goes at 33 speed unfortunately, but it's going," Wilson said. "And my video is here (points to eyes), so my visual. And I guess my analytics is my gut. To me, gut feel is just an accumulation of hundreds of thousands of experiences you've seen and then you draw something, and you don't even know where it all comes from, but you just say you have a gut feel. 

"That's what I believe. I don't know if all that is garbage, it probably is, but that's what I think and maybe that's what I can bring from my side to the young coaching staff."

Wilson, who will oversee the Flyers' blueliners, is a people person. He wants to listen to and learn from his defensemen as much as they do with him. He's known Hakstol for 15 years or so and was hired by Fletcher in Minnesota.

He had the itch to get back into coaching and the Flyers' potential helped make his decision.

"The competitive challenge was there with a team that I thought could go from where they are now to where they can be and should be," he said. "And I hopefully can be some sort of support to them and help.

"I've been in the business long enough — you don't think too much past each season. Everybody is under constant scrutiny and review. In that respect, I don't look too far ahead."

Like Wilson, Fletcher is just starting to acclimate himself to the Flyers' coaches. After Thursday's home game, the real evaluation should begin for Fletcher as the Flyers open a five-game road trip Saturday spanning eight days.

"I want it to work, I want to be successful with this group," Fletcher said. "It's not threats or anything, but if we don't have the solutions in-house, we'll look outside. There's no timetable for any of that, other than we're just trying to get better. 

"It will be great next week going on the road, Western Canada, we'll have time to go for some dinners, we have some back-to-backs, you have some late-night flights and you start to see people in their element."

Wilson has been around long enough to know the feeling of job pressure. Maybe he can help Hakstol, Knoblauch, Laperriere and Dillabaugh just as much as he helps the defensemen.

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