Alain Vigneault

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault's heartwarming favorite moment of quarantine

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault's heartwarming favorite moment of quarantine

In late April during the suspension of the 2019-20 NHL season, Alain Vigneault shared his appreciation for the essential workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Flyers' head coach made his way back home to Gatineau, Quebec, where his girlfriend Monica Cotton is an emergency nurse and his sister Nicole Vigneault works for Quebec Health (see story).

He also talked about his parents.

"They’re both in their senior residence, they’ve both been isolated since Day 1," he said on April 29. "My mom is having a little bit more challenging time mentally in the past few months, but my dad is still as sharp as he can be. There’s no doubt that him going through this by himself, he’s very lonely."

For Vigneault, his first visit to see his parents during the quarantine meant the world to the 59-year-old head coach.

He shared the touching story and a picture to Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill, which you can read and see below. He also chatted about it Thursday on 97.5 The Fanatic's "Farzetta in the Morning" show with Marc Farzetta.

It was the first day I was officially allowed to go out after serving my 14-day quarantine since arriving back in Gatineau, Quebec. The first trip I made was to my parents' senior care residence.

My mom Loraine (87) and dad Maurice (85) were originally both on the fifth floor but my mom is now battling dementia so she had to be moved to a 24-hour service on the second floor. When I arrived, they both walked out onto the second floor balcony and I was able to take this photo. We were able to talk for a few minutes. It was a very cold day in May but it was a good day for my mom. She recognized me and that was a real good positive for me. 

Ever since the beginning of May, my sister and I had been visiting every other day. For the last three to four weeks, the country has opened up and my dad can travel and do his errands and can leave the residence. It's coming along in Canada in a positive way.

This moment was no doubt the highlight of my quarantine — getting to see my parents.

Alain Vigneault seeing his parents Maurice and Loraine. (Picture courtesy of Vigneault)

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NHL awards: Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault named finalist for Jack Adams honor

NHL awards: Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault named finalist for Jack Adams honor

VOORHEES, N.J. — On April 18, 2019, Alain Vigneault was asked about the frustrations among fans with the Flyers' current state.

It was the day general manager Chuck Fletcher and the team introduced Vigneault as the Flyers' new head coach.

"I understand people's disappointment, but I would say that's all behind us,” Vigneault said. “Chuck is here, he's new. I'm here, I'm new. Nothing I can do about what happened in the past — I can focus on the present and hopefully make the future what we all want it to be. I'm going to be on high alert, I'm going to work my butt off to get this done and I’m very confident that it's going to work out."

So far, the Flyers' decision to bring Vigneault on board has worked out well. That decision looked awfully good Wednesday as Vigneault was named a finalist for the 2019-20 Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year). It will look awfully great if the Flyers make a big run at the Stanley Cup in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

"From Day 1, I felt that the veteran players of this group were looking for direction and that's basically what myself, my staff and management did," Vigneault said Wednesday. "We gave them direction, we told them this is the plan that we have, this is what you need to do to do your jobs on the ice. ... This group has progressed.

"The season's not over. We're going into the best part of the season. We've earned the right, we've made the playoffs, we've earned the right to compete for the Stanley Cup. Our business is far from over, which means my job is far from over."

Vigneault is up against Bruce Cassidy (Bruins) and John Tortorella (Blue Jackets) for the honor. The experienced 59-year-old bench boss won the award in 2006-07 with the Canucks and has finished second three times: 1999-00 (Canadiens), 2010-11 (Canucks) and 2014-15 (Rangers).

If Vigneault takes home the award, he'll become the fifth Flyers coach to do so. The other four are Fred Shero (1973-74), Pat Quinn (1979-80), Mike Keenan (1984-85) and Bill Barber (2000-01).

Vigneault very well could be this season's front-runner. The winner will be announced during the Conference Final series, which are slated to begin Sept. 8.

In just one season, Vigneault turned the Flyers into a top-six club a year after the team finished 22nd in the NHL at 37-37-8 with 82 points, its fewest over a full campaign since 2006-07.

Through a shortened 2019-20 regular season, the Flyers went 41-21-7 with 89 points in 69 games. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the team was projected to finish with 104 to 105 points, which would have been its most since a 106-point 2010-11 campaign.

With the abbreviated regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak, only four teams improved their point totals from 2018-19. The Flyers made the biggest jump with a seven-point increase despite playing 13 fewer games compared to last season, while the Oilers improved by four points (79 to 83), the Avalanche by two (90 to 92) and the Rangers by one (78 to 79).

Back in April 2019, there was a lot of buzz about Joel Quenneville, and justifiably so. The Flyers were thrilled to land Vigneault and we've seen why.

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NHL awards: Why Mike Sullivan could sneak up on Alain Vigneault for Jack Adams honor

NHL awards: Why Mike Sullivan could sneak up on Alain Vigneault for Jack Adams honor

Make no mistake, Alain Vigneault's body of work this season is front-runner worthy for the Jack Adams Award.

During 2018-19, the Flyers decided to embark on a massive shift within their hockey operations department and coaching staff. The team finished 22nd in the league at 37-37-8 with 82 points, its fewest over a full season since 2006-07.

In just one season (and not even a full one), Vigneault turned the Flyers into a top-six club. Through a shortened 2019-20 regular season, the Flyers went 41-21-7 with 89 points in 69 games. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the team was projected to finish with 104 to 105 points, which would have been its most since a 106-point 2010-11 campaign.

With the abbreviated regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak, only four teams improved their point totals from 2018-19. The Flyers made the biggest jump with a seven-point increase despite playing 13 fewer games compared to last season, while the Oilers improved by four points (79 to 83), the Avalanche by two (90 to 92) and the Rangers by one (78 to 79).

When it comes to Coach of the Year in 2019-20, Vigneault should be right there with anyone.

Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the NHL-best Bruins, of course will be up there, but ESPN's Greg Wyshynski made a great point, noting the coach of the Presidents' Trophy-winning team has won the Jack Adams honor only twice in the past 20 years.

Jared Bednar (Avalanche) and John Tortorella (Blue Jackets) should be in consideration, as well.

One coach who could sneak up and snatch the award away from Vigneault and the rest: Mike Sullivan.

The Penguins have had better regular seasons in the recent past, but Pittsburgh found a way to finish seventh among the league (three points behind the No. 6 Flyers) in the face of losing:

Brian Dumoulin for 41 games
Jake Guentzel for 30 games
Sidney Crosby for 28 games
Patric Hornqvist for 17 games
Evgeni Malkin for 14 games
Bryan Rust for 14 games
Kris Letang for eight games

Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, Rust, Hornqvist and Letang were six of the Penguins' top seven scorers this season and last season. For sake of comparison, the Flyers' top seven scorers this season missed six combined games.

That does not at all take away from the job Vigneault and the Flyers did in their resurgent 2019-20 season. It's also not to say the Flyers didn't deal with their share of significant injuries (Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton, Shayne Gostisbehere, Michael Raffl). But Sullivan's work around those losses will make him a serious challenger to Vigneault for the Jack Adams hardware.

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