In a turn of fate seeming to consistently befall Flyers fans, we woke up to the news on Monday morning that the Florida Panthers and Joel Quenneville have nearly completed a deal which will take the veteran coach down south. Now, this decision by Quenneville should not have come as much of a surprise, given that Quenneville could have the pick of jobs among any team in need of a coach. Despite this, there have been those who have made their voices clear about where they stand:
Joel Quenneville is a trader.— Tim Riday (@TimRiday) April 8, 2019
Nice job @NHLFlyers. How do you continue to be incompetant. Joel Quenneville was an easy hire. You pay him as much as he wants. Simple.— Ryan (@cabalritual) April 7, 2019
Though, what I do have in common with these angry commenters is the disappointment of not landing Quenneville. Sure, it may not be a surprise, but it still stings. So now, the Flyers will be picking between Scott Gordon, and various NHL established candidates. However, now the IIHF World Championships are beginning, and the world’s eyes turn to Slovakia, and on a more meta scale, Europe. Being based in Edinburgh, I’ve had the privilege to watch games in the SHL, KHL, and Champions League Hockey, and I can say with a fair amount of confidence that there are coaches in Europe who are ready to make the jump to the NHL.
“But Drew!” I hear you saying, “Last time the Flyers went outside of the box, we got Hakstol!”
Yes, this is true. Dave Hakstol was a bad coach (and according to my girlfriend, a good selector of neckties). Anybody the Flyers could hire could coach to a mediocre level. However, I’m of the firm belief that Hakstol’s coaching/personnel failures stemmed from his inexperience coaching professional hockey. He never did seem to adjust to the talent level around him, and all of the coaches I’m about to list have been professional for a while now. So, without further ado, here are three coaches in Europe who I think, stylistically, could do a pretty fine job with the Flyers:
Current team - VÄXJÖ LAKERS
Hallam is a two time SHL champion, has won coach of the year twice, and has piloted Växjö in the Champions Hockey league where he reached the final in 2017-18. For those unfamiliar with the CHL, it essentially functions like the UEFA Champions league in soccer where the best teams from all over Europe (minus the KHL) compete against each other. To do well in this tournament is tough, and Hallam has done very well to guide Växjö far in the competition. He coaches a very dynamic, offensive style, and his young, talented teams have finished in the top two in goals for 2 of the last 3 seasons. This year, Växjö found themselves in 7th, and lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. This is most likely due to the loss of key players like Elias Pettersson. Though, they still do have Flyers prospect David Bernhardt!
Current team - JOKERIT
Under Marjamäki, Jokerit Helsinki were one of the top scoring teams in the KHL, having placed second in their division behind SKA St. Petersburg (you know, the one with Pavel Datsyuk). Marjamäki was previously the national team coach of Finland, and coached in the Finnish SM-Liiga for Kärpät where he won two titles and one coach of the year. Marjamäki is known for coming into head coaching at a relatively young age, and though he struggled with a transitioning Finnish national team, he has found success again in the KHL. Marjamäki would certainly have fresh, interesting ideas to bring to the Flyers, and I know I like his coaching style.
Current team - KÄRPÄT
Manner was the long time assistant in Kärpät, but has found immense success as the head coach which also being named assistant coach in the Finnish national set-up. He won the SM-Liiga title in his first year, and currently finds himself in the semi-finals of the playoffs (still being played). While he may not be as experienced as Hallam, Manner’s teams have only lost 22 games of 120 total over the last two regular seasons. That’s pretty unreal. Due to his success, he was named last season’s coach of the year as a FIRST YEAR COACH. Yeah, I may be buying into the hype. Sure, he probably needs to keep this level of success a bit longer to be considered for a higher league, but I already fully believe it from watching their games. He seems equally adept at handling young players and vets (they have on their team a 37 year old Lasse Kukkonen), and his teams move the puck around well, especially on the powerplay. I highly recommend Manner.
In the end, I’m fairly confident the Flyers will give in to the massive pressure from fans and go with a “safe” pick for their coaching job, but it wouldn’t hurt to consider outsiders.