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.
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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