Flyers

Why Flyers did just fine with Alain Vigneault, not Joel Quenneville

Why Flyers did just fine with Alain Vigneault, not Joel Quenneville

It's uncertain how hard the Flyers went after Joel Quenneville or if the team was even in on the three-time Stanley Cup champion at all.

On the day Quenneville took the Panthers' head coaching job, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher appeared unflappable when asked about his level of disappointment with the news.

"I'm happy for Joel," Fletcher said April 8. "We're less than 48 hours since the end of our season and the process of identifying the next head coach of the Flyers will start today. We'll start the process.

"He's not available. I'm not going to speculate on names or people that may be available or were available or were available in past years. It's a big decision for the Flyers."

Backup plan or not, Fletcher didn't do too shabby with his big decision, tabbing Alain Vigneault as the Flyers' new head coach. 

Maybe there's some short-term memory with the outside perception of the hire. When you see Vigneault's name, many think of his final days with the Rangers. After four winning seasons, New York fired Vigneault last April as the team was ready for a fresh approach following a 25-point drop-off.

Well, the same happened with Quenneville. While he experienced a much longer and more fruitful run of success in Chicago, the situation eventually grew sour to the point in which new direction was wanted. Quenneville was fired 15 games into this season after his worst year with the Blackhawks in 2017-18.

Vigneault is not Quenneville. But he's no slouch, either.

The Flyers needed a coach with experience and got one.

Vigneault has led three teams to the Presidents' Trophy and two to the Stanley Cup Final. In 16 seasons as an NHL head coach, 11 have featured playoff berths, with eight of those teams advancing past the first round (see 5 takeaways).

He owns three 50-win seasons and eight 100-point seasons. The Flyers haven't won 50 or more games in a season since 1985-86 and haven't amassed 100 or more points in a season since 2011-12, when they last won a playoff series (see story).

"I think his track record speaks for itself," Fletcher said Monday. "He's had success at the junior level, had success in the minor leagues, and he's had success in the NHL. You can't have success at all those levels unless you're good at developing players and good at connecting with veteran players. He's a guy that gets his teams to play hard and gets his players to buy in."

And for Fletcher, what likely made Vigneault such an attractive candidate is the head coach's track record in Year 1 on the job. At Vigneault's previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons resulted in playoff bids and at least one series win. Overall, his combined record in those seasons was 131-89-26 with a .585 points percentage.

"Right now, it's about trying to continue to build our group and become as competitive as quickly as we can," Fletcher said.

Quenneville was clearly set on South Florida.

It's also clear why that didn't break the Flyers' hearts.

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More on the Flyers

Flyers Talk podcast: Big-time start to round robin, but what's next?

Flyers Talk podcast: Big-time start to round robin, but what's next?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall discuss the team's promising — but how promising? — start in the round robin.

Just how big is the Capitals game? What are the bigger decisions ahead? Let's dive in:

0:28 — Flyers fans couldn't have asked for a better start to the round robin

 9:02 — Which Flyers stood out most? Which players are next up?

• 18:04 — Are we believing in MoneyPuck.com's odds for the Flyers?

29:06 — Being back in studio for Flyers Pregame and Postgame shows.

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More on the Flyers

Don't expect the Flyers to be mingling with their rivals at Hotel X Toronto

Don't expect the Flyers to be mingling with their rivals at Hotel X Toronto

The Flyers have a day off the ice Tuesday.

Don't expect them to be making new friendships with their biggest rivals in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

The Flyers are staying in Hotel X Toronto with the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals and Penguins during the tourney.

No problem.

"It’s been good," Scott Laughton said last week in a video interview. "I think we’ve mostly been together, guys have been together most of the time. Not much interaction with other teams or anything like that, I think everyone’s kind of on their own schedule and different practice times and stuff, so haven’t been seeing much of the other guys. I’m sure once playoffs ramp up, I don’t think there will be many hellos. It’s been good so far and very comfortable for us. We've got a great set up here; it’s been pretty smooth for us."

The seven other Eastern Conference teams in the tourney — Hurricanes, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Panthers, Rangers and Canadiens — were assigned to the Fairmont Royal York.

The NHL knows its clubs will leave the intensity on the ice.

"We had an assignment protocol based on regular-season finish, who had more point percentage than the others," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last Friday in an interview with NBC Sports' Liam McHugh. "At the end of the day, our players are professionals. My guess is the teams may stick more to themselves other than the relationships 1-on-1 that players have with players on other teams."

After all, the Stanley Cup is on the line and players were away from their teammates for quite some time during this pause.

"We’re finding from our players, this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they are competing for the Stanley Cup, and it’s their interest to be separated," NHL chief content officer and senior executive VP of events and entertainment Steve Mayer said in July just before the teams traveled to the two league bubbles. "The team lounges, the player meeting rooms, the player meal rooms, of course are team by team.

"I think there are going to be certain areas where, let’s call them common areas. For the first five days we’ve put a very, very stringent tone for the fact that they have to be separated, both in restaurants and everywhere. But we really have felt that the players’ feedback is their interest to be separated throughout, and we’ll see how that evolves as the tournament moves on."

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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