Flyers

Popular former Flyer Ilkka Sinisalo dies at 58

Popular former Flyer Ilkka Sinisalo dies at 58

Ilkka Sinisalo, a somewhat underrated member of one of the most prolific scoring clubs in Flyers history, died Wednesday in Finland at age 58.
 
He had battled prostate cancer for more than three years.
 
Sinisalo had been a European scout with the Flyers since 2004. Sinisalo, who once served as Flyers defenseman Janne Niinimaa's landlord in Finland, was well-respected within the scouting ranks and was also asked to voice opinions on North American prospects. He even gave his advice on European pros who were hoping to play in the NHL. 

He was the first Finnish player in Flyers history and was immortalized by Sign Man's "Ilkka Score-a-goal-a."
 
"Ilkka was a true friend and loyal member of the Flyers," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. "He gave a great deal of his time, effort and talents to the organization in several capacities as a player and longtime scout to bring this franchise success on and off the ice.
 
"Most important to all that knew him, he was a great person, a loving husband, father and grandfather. His presence and friendship will be deeply missed by all that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife of over 35 years, Carina, his sons Niklas and Tomas, as well as Tomas' wife, Maija and their children Peter and Matilda."
 
Sinisalo was one of the quickest, smoothest skaters in the entire NHL during that era when goals were scored by the bushel. He played up and down the lineup on Mike Keenan's teams.
 
"Ilkka was awesome to play with," recalled teammate Brian Propp. "He always knew how to score. He picked the corners, he never missed the net and he was a two-way player. He made a difference for us on the second and third line because we needed scoring and he filled that role."
 
Sinisalo's best season was 1985-86 when he had career-highs in goals (39) and points (76). That particular team, led by Propp's 97 points, had four players with 76 or more points and five players with 27 or more goals, led by Tim Kerr's 58.
 
Pelle Eklund's 51 assists that year remains a Flyers rookie record. Just an amazing offensive team.
 
"He played with [Peter] Zezel and [Rick] Tocchet a little bit [on the off-wing]," Propp said. "And with Derek Smith and Lindsay Carson. He was pretty good at hanging in there with guys.
 
"He was one of the best guys around. We had a balanced scoring team and with Mark Howe and Brad McCrimmon at the point, we had chances to score."
 
Sinisalo was here parts of nine seasons from 1981-82 to 1989-90. His 199 goals as a Flyer are fourth-best in franchise history among right wings while his 408 points are sixth-best in the same category.
 
"Just a terrific guy," teammate Rick Tocchet said. "A skilled player. I am shocked right now."
 
Sinisalo made two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final with the Flyers -- 1985 and 1987 against Edmonton.
 
"Ilkka was a very good player, a great teammate, but most importantly an outstanding person and a terrific friend to us all," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "We've all had the pleasure to work with him for many years and he will be missed." 
 
He joined the Flyers as a 23-year-old rookie in 1981, signing as a free agent after playing four seasons for HIFK Helsinki in Finland.
 
"His first goal was a penalty shot, I remember that," Propp said.
 
Indeed, that came during an 8-2 rout over Pittsburgh at the Spectrum. Sinisalo had 15 goals and 37 points during his rookie year.
 
A defensively-responsible player, he was a plus player his entire career as a Flyer and retired plus-135.
 
His 11 shorthanded goals as a Flyer remains tied for 10th-most with Simon Gagne and Don Saleski.
 
Tocchet said he was one of the most versatile players he'd ever seen.
 
"Honestly, he played with everyone," Tocchet said. "Could play left or right wing."

Sources: No moves have been made regarding Dave Hakstol

Sources: No moves have been made regarding Dave Hakstol

Updated: 6:28 p.m.

While one report suggested the Flyers have decided to fire Dave Hakstol and replace him with Joel Quenneville, two team sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia that no moves have been made.

According to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, the Flyers will fire Hakstol and hire Quenneville as their next head coach. The report stated the Flyers will announce the firing either Sunday night or Monday morning.

However, the Flyers have not made any official announcement. The team was flying back from Vancouver today following a 1-3-1 road trip. Also, according to a report by FOX Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland, Quenneville has not taken the job. A source confirmed Strickland's report to NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The Flyers' five-game road swing ended disastrously as the team lost four straight games, a stretch in which it allowed 22 goals. Overall, the Flyers are 12-15-4 with 28 points and in last place of the Metropolitan Division 31 games into a season with much greater expectations.

The Flyers are also allowing the second-most goals per game at 3.74 and have regressed in Year 4 under Hakstol, who was hired by Ron Hextall. Three weeks ago, Hextall was fired as general manager. One week later, the Flyers named Chuck Fletcher their new GM.

The Flyers play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Red Wings.

Stay tuned on who will actually be behind the bench.

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Could this be the end of the road for Dave Hakstol as Flyers head coach?

Could this be the end of the road for Dave Hakstol as Flyers head coach?

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Dave Hakstol coached his 277th game behind the Flyers' bench Saturday night, and quite possibly his last one.

The third-longest tenured coach in franchise history is well aware of what’s being whispered and what’s flying around on social media and message boards after losing the final four games of this road trip. 

Now it appears Hakstol’s time in Philadelphia is coming to the end of the road.

“I know everything that is out there,” Hakstol said before the Flyers' 5-1 loss to the Canucks (see observations). “You know me well enough by now. I know everything in terms of the rumors and what’s going on out there. My only concern is what we do, and the rest, I have no real comment on.”

Sportsnet Canada’s Chris Johnston reported on Hockey Night in Canada, “With the Flyers wrapping up their road trip in Vancouver, it could be one where Chuck Fletcher is forced to make a change.”

Fletcher is at a crossroads. He turned down media requests and wouldn’t comment on any rumors regarding the status of his head coach, but the pressure to make moves only intensifies.

The week started with speculation that Fletcher was looking to upgrade the roster before the holiday freeze that goes into effect next week (see story), but that doesn’t address a more immediate concern.

Even if upper management feels as if Hakstol isn’t to blame for the myriad of problems, most notably the revolving door of injuries surrounding the goaltenders, how can you put the same coach behind the bench when the Flyers return home Tuesday against the Red Wings and face a passionate fan base demanding changes?

It’s a scene and situation that could turn ugly rather quickly.

“I have no control over that,” Scott Laughton, who scored the Flyers' only goal, said. “We’ve got to focus on what we can do to bring this locker room together and help our team win. It’s a sh---y feeling. That’s not my decision or anything to do with me. We've got to get back home and fix this quickly.”

“I’m not the one to judge,” Radko Gudas said. “We let our goalies down, we let our fans down, we let everybody down. It’s not on [Hakstol’s] shoulders entirely. It’s the fault of ours.” 

There’s faulty defense for starters. From the final 30 minutes in Winnipeg to the final 90 seconds in Calgary to the opening 12 minutes in Vancouver. The Flyers have seen games unravel in various forms lately.

“I don’t know what hockey gods we pissed off, but we’re getting some tough bounces and some untimely situations,” Jordan Weal said. “It’s tough sledding right now and we’re going to have to stick together.”

Which has been the oft-repeated message from the head coach. 

At this stage, how can you not find a new messenger?

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