The Flyers have fired Adirondack Phantoms head coach Joe Paterson after about a year and a half on the job, news announced by Paul Holmgren Tuesday afternoon. Paterson was hired as coach in December 2010 and had just completed his first full season with the organization.
"As an organization, we feel the Phantoms need a new voice moving forward," Holmgren said in a press release. "We would like to thank Joe for his hard work and service to the Phantoms over the past season and a half, but we feel a new direction is needed at this time."
This is kind of a shock, honestly, and it feels like Paterson's a bit of a scapegoat here.
The Phantoms had literally zero business even sniffing the Calder Cup Playoffs this year thanks to the insane amount of call-ups they were faced with and the awful roster they were sacked with even prior to those call-ups. The Flyers are completely to blame for the awful position they've put their farm team in these last few years, and Paterson should be heralded for the work he's done in making that team respectable.
The Flyers don't use their AHL team to develop NHL talent, instead using it as a stable for fourth-line grinders they need to replace injured players at the NHL level. This is evidenced by the fact that three of the Phantoms' top four scorers are on AHL-only deals, meaning they can't be called up to the Flyers. The exception is leading-scorer Jason Akeson, who has 49 points in 67 games.
The only current Phantoms players that were even drafted by the Flyers organization are Marc-Andre Bourdon, Oskars Bartulis, Oliver Lauridsen, Tye McGinn and Garrett Klotz, the last of whom the Flyers sent
back to his Junior teamto the Central Hockey League last year, then signed to an AHL-only deal this past summer.
And as we know, the best player on that list, Marc-Andre Bourdon, spent most of this season in Philadelphia. The Phantoms were just an awful team with few truly strong players on the roster, and yet they almost qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs despite all of that. The credit has to go to Paterson there.
Even further, when those fourth-line plugs made their way to the NHL, they were praised by Peter Laviolette and Holmgren for how well they fit into the system, seemingly without issue at all. How was Eric Wellwood able to impress so well in the postseason? How were Harry Zolnierczyk, Zac Rinaldo and Bourdon able to fit so well into the makeup of the Flyers this season?
You have to give a ton of credit to Joe Paterson, who put in place a similar system to that used in Philadelphia, and he taught it well. He made the best of the utter shit storm he was given by Paul Holmgren, assistant GM John Paddock and the Flyers in Glens Falls, and it's really a shame to see that work be recognized with a firing instead of with praise.