Chuck Fletcher needed a week to find who he wanted to spark this Flyers team, a group that underwhelmed significantly in 2018-19 and has visions of jumping right back into contention for 2019-20.
In reality, Fletcher probably had Alain Vigneault on his mind for some time. Over the course of last week, the general manager realized Vigneault was the "right fit for the Flyers" as head coach (see story).
"I think this is a great day for the Flyers' organization," Fletcher said Monday night on a conference call. "Any time you get a chance to get a guy like Alain Vigneault, it's a real positive move. He's one of the top coaches in the league and he has been for many years. We're just very excited that he's agreed to come work."
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Here are five takeaways after Fletcher addressed the media:
1. Résumé speaks volumes
It's clear Fletcher was eyeing a coach with deep experience. He wasn't about to get cute with this hire.
Frankly, there isn't a lot of room for patience or error. Fletcher wants to be competitive out of the chute next season. The core's clock ticks with each year and the youth must make bigger strides. Bringing in a coach who has been there, done that was important.
The decision to hire Vigneault says a lot to upper management, which brought in Fletcher to push things forward at a much quicker rate.
The 57-year-old Vigneault owns two Stanley Cup Final appearances, three 50-win seasons and eight 100-point campaigns.
"He's always been what I've considered to be a top coach in the NHL," Fletcher said.
"He's coached for many years in this league, he's won a lot of games, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. His teams have had playoff success. He's won the Jack Adams Trophy, won the Presidents' Trophy. So certainly that track record of winning games is critical."
2. 'Holding his players accountable'
A week ago, Fletcher lamented bad on-ice habits by the Flyers, laying out a laundry list of issues that resulted in maddening inconsistency and another year of no playoffs.
Finding a coach to hone in on better fundamentals and ensuring bad habits are short-lived was obviously on the mind of Fletcher when he pursued Vigneault.
"He has a tremendous track record of developing players, holding his players accountable, instilling proper habits in his players," Fletcher said. "I think he's one of the better bench coaches in the National Hockey League. His ability to adapt and read the game and make changes as he sees fit is top notch. He's obviously a hard-worker.
"In my time with him here over the past few days, I've found out he's also a really good person and somebody that I communicated with well."
3. Faith in the Flyers
Vigneault's decision to hop on board signifies the Flyers are still an attractive destination. They aren't lacking a ton of talent, the prospect pool is promising, Philly is one of the larger markets and the fan base is devoted.
Fletcher said Vigneault was impressed by the Flyers' makeup. Both sides are in win-now mode. The fact that Vigneault chose the Flyers shows he believes in the possibilities of turning this team into a contender.
"He obviously likes our team, likes our group, and thinks there's a lot of upside here," Fletcher said.
"Alain, I think he's at a stage of his career where he wants to win, and he sees a lot of potential in our roster. Right now, it's about trying to continue to build our group and become as competitive as quickly as we can."
4. What's next for Gordon?
Similar to Dave Hakstol, Scott Gordon faced quite a tall task in trying to win over a new GM from outside of the organization.
A general manager almost always wants to hire his guy for the head coaching position. It's one of the firmest and most important imprints a GM can make on his team.
Gordon joined on the fly with little practice time throughout the schedule. He should be commended for bringing the Flyers to within three points of a playoff spot after the team was in last place of the 31-team NHL standings more than halfway through the season.
"First of all, I just want to comment that he did a good job for the Flyers," Fletcher said of his former interim head coach. "He came in under tough circumstances and I thought he did a very good job with our hockey team. When I spoke with him this morning, obviously he was disappointed. He wanted to be the head coach. I just advised him to take some time, we can talk again over the coming weeks."
Gordon said the run with the Flyers had invigorated his desire to coach in the NHL again. If anything, he earned back his previous post within the organization.
"Certainly the Lehigh Valley job is his if he wants it, but right now I don't think is the time to discuss that," Fletcher said. "I just think he needs to take some time and let everything sink in, and a few weeks down the road, we'll have another discussion as to what path he wants to go down."
5. How about the assistants?
The fates of assistant coaches Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill), Rick Wilson (defensemen) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies) don't look great.
That's what happens when a new head coach is hired. With Vigneault's experience at three different stops, he'll likely have plenty of names in mind for his assistants.
"We haven't made any decisions," Fletcher said. "We'll work together to hire the assistant coaches. We had a conversation about it; we haven't made any final determinations. We really haven't discussed a lot of names other than that we agreed we'd work together to find the right group to surround him."
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