Kris Knoblauch

Flyers hire Michel Therrien, Mike Yeo as assistant coaches

Flyers hire Michel Therrien, Mike Yeo as assistant coaches

Alain Vigneault has his coaching staff.

The Flyers on Monday announced the club's coaches for the 2019-20 season and a handful of things stand out.

It's clear general manager Chuck Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers wanted to bring on some experience. They hired Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo as new assistant coaches. Therrien has 814 games of NHL head coaching experience, while Yeo owns 482 and was the bench boss for parts of five seasons with the Wild under Fletcher.

Therrien and Yeo both have backgrounds with the Penguins. Therrien led Pittsburgh to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, a season in which Yeo was his assistant. Therrien has 71 games of playoff experience between stints with the Penguins and Canadiens. So, between Vigneault and Therrien, that's three Stanley Cup Final appearances. Yeo was on Pittsburgh's staff when the Penguins won the 2009 Stanley Cup. His head coaching experience came under Fletcher in Minnesota and with the Blues. Overall, he owns 39 games of postseason experience.

Three coaches will be retained: Ian Laperriere, Kim Dillabaugh and Adam Patterson. Laperriere oversaw the Flyers' penalty kill but it's uncertain if he'll continue with those responsibilities. Dillabaugh is the Flyers' goaltending coach and Vigneault was impressed by his work with Carter Hart, while Patterson is the Flyers' video coach.

"I am excited to add Michel and Mike on our coaching staff to work alongside Ian Laperriere, Kim Dillabaugh and Adam Patterson," Vigneault said in a statement released by the Flyers. "Both men have enjoyed success at all levels throughout their coaching careers, including working together at the NHL level. Each brings a considerable amount of experience and knowledge to our group, which I have no doubt will help lead our team to immediate success."

While the Flyers' penalty kill has ranked in the bottom 10 of the NHL in each of the past five seasons under Laperriere, he relates well with the players and can be a help to the new assistants in understanding the roster.

Kris Knoblauch and Rick Wilson are not returning. Knoblauch, who was previously coaching in junior hockey, was brought on board during June 2017 and coached the Flyers' power play. Out of retirement, Rick Wilson joined the Flyers in December of this season and worked with the defensemen.

Scott Gordon has decided to stay in the organization. After serving as the Flyers' interim head coach from Dec. 17 to the end of the season, Gordon will return to his previous post as head coach of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, which Fletcher said he more than earned. Kerry Huffman, who led the Phantoms when Gordon was summoned by the Flyers, will be an assistant in Lehigh Valley.

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Rick Wilson says believe in the Flyers' coaching staff

Rick Wilson says believe in the Flyers' coaching staff

VOORHEES, N.J. — Rick Wilson has been around quite a bit.

He owns over 30 years of NHL coaching experience, has served seven different teams and won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.

The 68-year-old knows a thing or two about coaching.

And he believes in the Flyers' coaches, a staff that is essentially in audition mode with a new general manager taking over the reins. The 2018-19 Flyers have underperformed, which is a major reason why Ron Hextall no longer has a job and why Chuck Fletcher was being introduced at a press conference Wednesday.

The coaching staff is now fighting for its future in the Flyers' organization. Gord Murphy was let go last week after Hextall's firing and before Fletcher's arrival.

Now Wilson is on board, fresh out of retirement. He has been impressed by head coach Dave Hakstol and assistants Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies), a group that has been under heavy outside criticism for the Flyers' shortcomings through 25 games this season.

"I love working with these young coaches, it's a good coaching staff — really good coaching staff," Wilson said Wednesday after his first practice. "They're younger and they know the new elements in the game — the video elements, the computer side of things, the analytics.

"You've got to work together. It's part of a team, that's what I've always been a part of. There's no single answer to anything that's going on around here — not one single answer." 

Wilson is more of an old-school guy embracing the new age of coaching but never losing his approach.

"I come in, I bring in my own computer, which is here (points to head). It's still working, it still goes at 33 speed unfortunately, but it's going," Wilson said. "And my video is here (points to eyes), so my visual. And I guess my analytics is my gut. To me, gut feel is just an accumulation of hundreds of thousands of experiences you've seen and then you draw something, and you don't even know where it all comes from, but you just say you have a gut feel. 

"That's what I believe. I don't know if all that is garbage, it probably is, but that's what I think and maybe that's what I can bring from my side to the young coaching staff."

Wilson, who will oversee the Flyers' blueliners, is a people person. He wants to listen to and learn from his defensemen as much as they do with him. He's known Hakstol for 15 years or so and was hired by Fletcher in Minnesota.

He had the itch to get back into coaching and the Flyers' potential helped make his decision.

"The competitive challenge was there with a team that I thought could go from where they are now to where they can be and should be," he said. "And I hopefully can be some sort of support to them and help.

"I've been in the business long enough — you don't think too much past each season. Everybody is under constant scrutiny and review. In that respect, I don't look too far ahead."

Like Wilson, Fletcher is just starting to acclimate himself to the Flyers' coaches. After Thursday's home game, the real evaluation should begin for Fletcher as the Flyers open a five-game road trip Saturday spanning eight days.

"I want it to work, I want to be successful with this group," Fletcher said. "It's not threats or anything, but if we don't have the solutions in-house, we'll look outside. There's no timetable for any of that, other than we're just trying to get better. 

"It will be great next week going on the road, Western Canada, we'll have time to go for some dinners, we have some back-to-backs, you have some late-night flights and you start to see people in their element."

Wilson has been around long enough to know the feeling of job pressure. Maybe he can help Hakstol, Knoblauch, Laperriere and Dillabaugh just as much as he helps the defensemen.

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Dave Hakstol's situation gets even weirder … and better?

Dave Hakstol's situation gets even weirder … and better?

What a bizarre and uneasy time for Dave Hakstol.

First, he finds out his future will be a can kicked down the road to a complete outsider after the axing of his previous boss.

Then, a day later, he's actually in consultation with Paul Holmgren about another shake-up, this one involving assistant coach Gord Murphy, who was fired Wednesday along with assistant general manager Chris Pryor.

With that, you wonder if Hakstol would have ever been in consultation over such a personnel move when Ron Hextall was running the show as general manager.

When the Flyers stumbled through the first two months of the season and saw glaring struggles in specific areas — special teams, goaltending, defensive play — the coaching staff of Hakstol, Murphy (defensemen), Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies) remained untouched.

Another slow start with a core group expected to make bigger strides this season would have suggested some sort of change, which often comes to a coaching staff.

Just two days after Hextall was removed from his GM chair, the Flyers made a change within their coaching group and Hakstol was consulted.

That says a lot.

Would Hakstol have made a switch earlier if consulted? It's fair to question.

Murphy and Laperriere were on staff prior to Hakstol's arrival. Fewer than two months after Hakstol was named head coach, Dillabaugh came to the Flyers from the Kings, where Hextall won a Stanley Cup as an assistant general manager. Knoblauch was brought on board in June 2017, a move Hakstol at least had discussions about with Hextall.

The defense has been one of many sore spots in 2018-19. The Flyers have allowed the NHL's third-most goals per game at 3.59. They've allowed 86 goals through 24 contests compared to 73 in the first 24 last season.

Obviously, this doesn't fall on just the blueliners; it's on the forwards and goalies, too. But the defensemen haven't been great, while Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have experienced some surprising lumps after stud performances in 2017-18.

Holmgren on Tuesday sounded like he wanted to hear from Hakstol.

"I said if there was anything I could to help you do your job better, please feel free to come and talk to me about it," the Flyers' president said. "Talked a little bit about his staff moving forward, that was about it. He knows, we have the players know, the coaches know, we all know it's about winning. We haven't been winning enough games lately and we need to get back to work."

Ironically, with no GM in place, Hakstol has pull right now while his future is kicked like a can down the road.

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