Updated: 2:02 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers' offseason is already off to an undesirable start.
Not long after the Flyers skated off the Wells Fargo Center ice, we've learned that three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville is joining the Florida Panthers.
Quenneville would have brought an excitement to Flyers Nation similar to the energy Bryce Harper has unleashed on Philadelphia. Quenneville is the next head coach of the Panthers, but it’s not because GM Dale Tallon beat Chuck Fletcher to the punch.
Clearly the Flyers organization, from CEO Dave Scott on down, was locked into the idea of bringing Quenneville aboard. However, Tallon and Quenneville are good friends as Tallon promoted Quenneville to the position of head coach with the Blackhawks in 2008.
The Panthers reached out to the Blackhawks for permission to speak with Quenneville, but it’s believed the two sides had been in serious negotiations with a press conference scheduled for Monday.
With Quenneville out of the mix, Fletcher had better act quickly if he wants to get one of his desirable candidates. A quarter of NHL teams entered Sunday searching for a new head coach and it looks like Todd McLellan could be off the board, as well.
I'm hearing that Todd McLellan is closing in on an agreement to replace Phil Housley as the next coach of the Buffalo Sabres and that an announcement could come as early as tomorrow.— Eric Duhatschek (@eduhatschek) April 8, 2019
With Quenneville off the radar, where does Fletcher direct his search?
Here are some potential candidates:
Dave Tippett — senior adviser to Seattle’s NHL team
Tippett was fired by the Arizona Coyotes following the 2016-17 season and five straight non-playoff appearances and replaced by Rick Tocchet.
Prior to the recent lockout, Tippett guided the then-Phoenix Coyotes to the Western Conference Final in 2012 after winning the Pacific Division. Between coaching stints with the Coyotes and Stars, Tippett’s teams reached the playoffs in eight of his first nine seasons.
What makes Tippett attractive?
The Flyers finished 29th in goals allowed, a number Fletcher has been adamant in cutting down. In the eight years Tippett’s teams made the playoffs, they finished third, second, sixth, fourth, sixth, third, 13th and fifth in overall team defense. That’s appealing for a team that was horrendous on the defensive side of the ice.
Alain Vigneault — head coach Team Canada’s World Championship team
Vigneault was relieved of his duties with the New York Rangers following the 2017-18 season after the team proceeded to sell off its best players as part of a rebuild on Broadway. The 57-year-old coach may have the opportunity to coach fellow French Canadians Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier at the upcoming World Championships.
What makes Vigneault attractive?
He’s a proven winner. Vigneault won six divisional titles in Vancouver, including a President’s Trophy with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. In his first season in New York, Vigneault led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years. He’s coached his teams to eight 100-point seasons over a 10-year period.
Guy Boucher — fired as Senators coach on March 1, 2019
Boucher was put in an untenable position after the Senators proceeded to sell off the organization’s best players, starting with defenseman Erik Karlsson last summer. Boucher has had a short shelf life, coaching just three seasons in Tampa Bay and Ottawa. Karlsson excelled in Boucher’s first season in Ottawa and perhaps hiring Boucher could be a way of luring Karlsson to Philadelphia, who the coach labeled "the best player in the world" in 2017.
What makes Boucher attractive?
He may be a short-term fix, but in his first full season with the Lightning in 2011 and the Senators in 2017, he guided both teams to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. The 1-3-1 neutral zone trap Boucher is known for is the same system the Flyers had success with this season under interim head coach Scott Gordon.
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