Flyers

Source: Chuck Fletcher didn't plan on firing Dave Hakstol on Monday

Source: Chuck Fletcher didn't plan on firing Dave Hakstol on Monday

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Calgary collapse was Chuck Fletcher’s tipping point.

At that moment, the Flyers' GM knew some move had to be made.

“The Calgary game represented everything that I’ve come to know about this team,” Fletcher said Monday. “The chances we continue to take, our puck management, our game management and turnovers we committed. We’ve got to close that game out, and that’s mindset and that’s attitude. To my eyes, there was a disconnect between what [Dave Hakstol] was preaching and how the players were playing. I felt like we needed a new voice.”

The Flyers fired Hakstol on Monday, but that new voice won't be Joel Quenneville, at least not in the short term. Fletcher said he hasn’t spoken to Quenneville in two years and hasn’t asked the Blackhawks for permission to speak with the three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach, who was fired Nov. 6 (see 5 takeaways).

According to Blues rinkside reporter Andy Strickland, Quenneville was skiing in Colorado this week and is apparently in no rush to get back into coaching. Quenneville is due to collect the $6 million remaining on his contract through next season with the Blackhawks.   

Moving forward, the Flyers named Scott Gordon interim head coach for the remainder of the regular season. He was not on the ice for Monday’s practice when news broke that Hakstol had been relieved of his duties after three-plus seasons behind the bench. 

Why not? 

A source close to the situation says Hakstol wasn’t initially going to be fired, but the head coach wanted a reassurance from his GM when he arrived at Flyers Skate Zone early Monday morning.

When that didn’t happen, the two sides parted ways. Suffice to say, it created an uncomfortable feeling (again) in the Flyers' dressing room.

“Hak is a great guy,” Jakub Voracek said. “We made the playoffs two out of three years. We had ups and downs. He was a new coach. First time coaching in the NHL. He learned obviously over those years. It's always tough when somebody’s let go.”

Players echoed Fletcher’s belief that finding that new voice was the right move.

“For one guy to kind of pay the price for what’s going on, it’s not fair, but it’s the business side of it,” Claude Giroux said. “When it’s not working well, it’s going to happen.” 

Gordon will be behind the bench when the Flyers drop the puck Tuesday against the Red Wings, and Fletcher says he’s a candidate for the job on a permanent basis. Gordon’s only head coaching experience came with the Islanders from 2009-11 and it was not a very successful era. The Islanders finished 64-94-23 in Gordon’s two-plus years on the job.

"He's got some creative ways of thinking the game,” Andrew MacDonald, who played for Gordon in New York, said. “We had a really young team in New York when I was there — transitioning from an older team to a younger team. It was kind of a tough situation for him. He was trying to bring in new ideas with speed and some of his philosophies. He's got good systems and I think he'll do a good job for us."

As of now, Gordon has the job and is that new voice Fletcher is looking for.

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Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Updated: 11:57 a.m.

Here comes Morgan Frost.

The Flyers called up the playmaking center Monday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Carsen Twarynski to the Phantoms.

Frost, an exciting 20-year-old prospect who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lehigh Valley.

Over his final two OHL seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games.

He is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers play the Panthers in Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and will wear No. 48.

Frost very well will likely play center, which would allow Claude Giroux to play first-line left winger, where he’s had career-best success.

How long could Frost be here? His play could dictate that, but Scott Laughton (broken finger) is nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as Saturday's game against the Flames.

Nonetheless, Frost is getting his first shot.

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Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

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