The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Monday that they have fired head coach Dave Hasktol. Dave Issac of the Courier-Post initially reported on Sunday that the firing was imminent and could be announced within 24 hours. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer confirmed the move on Monday before the Flyers made it official.
In a statement released by the team, Lehigh Valley Phantoms coach Scott Gordon will be the Flyers’ interim head coach. Gordon, who is in his fourth-year coaching Lehigh Valley, has led the Phantoms to a record of 15-9-1-1 (28 points) this season and overall has a record of 144-86-24.
Before joining Lehigh Valley, the 54-year-old Gordon also served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a few seasons (2011-2014) and was a head coach with the New York Islanders for three seasons (2008-2011).
Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who played under Gordon with the Islanders, had nothing but positive things to say about the team’s new interim head coach.
“I had him in New York, I didn’t have him for an overly long time,” MacDonald said (h/t NHL.com). “He liked to play with pace. He’s got some different ways of thinking about things, some unique styles, kind of creative ways to play. He’s pretty fiery, he can get going behind the bench. It’s a situation where he’s coming in midseason, he’s had some success with Lehigh. For us as players, its a fresh start for everyone and hopefully he can turn things around.”
It’s a move that surprises no one as Hakstol is out the door after the team got embarrassed by the Vancouver Canucks, 5-1, on Saturday night to drop them to 12-15-14 (28 points), good for last in the Metropolitan Division.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Flyers relieved Ron Hextall of his general manager duties, which seemed to be the writing on the wall for Hakstol’s eventual departure.
Over his four-year tenure with the Black and Orange, Hakstol had a record of 134-101-2 and made the Stanley Cup playoffs twice. In those two playoffs appearances, the Flyers got dismantled by the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The former University of North Dakota head coach was hired by Hextall back in 2015 and had one season left on his five-year, $10 million deal.
With Hakstol now out of the door, Fletcher can go ahead and hire the head coach who he wants. The coach that he and the Flyers organization have their eye on is Joel Quenneville.
Issac reported on Sunday that the former Chicago Blackhawks coach was offered the position and will accept it. Quenneville was fired earlier this season after the Blackhawks got off to a slow start (6-6-3).
The 60-year-old head coach led Chicago to three Stanley Cup (2010, 2012, 2014) and was the second-winningest coach in franchise history. He is also the second-winningest coach in NHL history with 890 wins.
If Quenneville does end up becoming the head coach, he will have a lot of things to fix. One of those things will be igniting the power play. This season, the power play has been not good under Hakstol along with the inconsistent offense.
The Flyers rank 29th out of 31 NHL teams in power percentage at 12.9 and 18th in goals for per game with 2.97. Along with the offense, there is also the goaltending issue, which was not so much a Hakstol issue but more so the front office.
The Flyers have been bitten by the injury bug heavy in between the pipes and seen bad performances too. But things should be improved in net as the team recalled top prospect Carter Hart, who has been in the AHL with the Phantoms.