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Seriously though, how does Ian Laperriere still have a job?

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Despite objectively bad results year after year, this assistant keeps on coming back and we have no idea why.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 19, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers assistant head coach Ian Laperriere (left) and head coach Dave Hakstol against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers overhauled their coaching staff in a big way on Monday with the additions of Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien, but held on to a piece of the previous staff that should have been shown the door long ago.

Somehow —inexplicably— assistant coach Ian Laperriere has survived yet another coaching change in Philadelphia. Alain Vigneault be his fourth head coach since being hired as an assistant back in October of 2013.

If Kris Knoblauch couldn’t survive his power play slipping from 15th overall in 2017-18 to 22nd last season, it’s bizarre that Laperriere has survived his fifth-straight season of declining results on the penalty kill.

But alas, here we are.

Laperriere has handled the Flyers’ penalty kill for the last several years after carving out a 16-year NHL by doing just that: killing penalties. From 1997-98 (the first year penalty kill time on ice was tracked) through his final season in 2010, Laperriere played a total of 2,363 minutes and 58 seconds shorthanded. That’s good for 36th overall among all NHL players during that span.

Seems like the perfect man to lead an NHL penalty kill, right? Well, here’s the problem: he hasn’t been, and the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.

Flyers’ penalty kill under Ian Laperriere

Season Penalty kill percentage Penalty kill rank
Season Penalty kill percentage Penalty kill rank
2013-14 84.80% 7th
2014-15 77.10% 27th
2015-16 80.50% 20th
2016-17 79.80% 21st
2017-18 75.80% 29th
2018-19 78.50% 26th

Since taking over the penalty kill in 2013, the Flyers have finished better than 20th in penalty kill percentage just once. That was back in 2013-14, when the Flyers finished seventh in terms of overall percentage in Laperriere’s first year in charge of the penalty kill. It’s been all downhill from there for the former tough guy who will undoubtedly go down as one of the ultimate fan favorites in Flyers history for that infamous shot block during the improbable 2010 Cup Finals run.

The Flyers’ penalty kill fell off a cliff after Laperriere’s first season in charge, going from seventh all the way down to 27th in 2014-15. But the drop-off wasn’t a fluke, as the Flyers’ penalty kill settled down in the bottom third of the league over the past four years —bottoming out at 29th last season and struggling up to 26th this season.

Even by being nice and throwing out the first two years that essentially cancelled each other out, four years is more than enough of a sample size and it sure doesn’t do Laperriere any favors. There was slight improvement in 2015-16, but the lack of continued improvement in the following season (21st overall) in 2016-17 should have been a red flag for the Flyers’ brass. But then-GM Ron Hextall and then-coach Dave Hakstol kept Laperriere around, and things got worse by slipping down to 29th in 2017-18.

But even after four-straight seasons of a failing penalty kill, Laperriere was back leading the band together at the start of this past season. But this time jobs were on the line, and both Hextall and Hakstol were fired mid-season as the Flyers floundered in mediocrity. The irony was that the Flyers big wigs didn’t see enough progress from Hextall’s patient grand plan, but were apparently fine with Laperriere coaching the Flyers to yet another bottom third penalty kill, finishing at 26th.

In the six seasons that Laperriere has been involved in the Flyers penalty kill, they’ve ranked 25th overall (79.7%) during that span. And that’s with a top-10 penalty kill during 2013-14, to boot.

Given that it’s been a half decade since the Flyers have had even a league average penalty kill, it’s no wonder that the club hasn’t gotten anywhere close to fulfilling Stanley Cup aspirations. And while some of the failures in recent years can be attributed to Hextall refusing to add pieces to help the penalty kill, there have been plenty of players to come through the doors and the one constant has been Laperriere’s inability to get the job done.

Perhaps Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will make a concerted attempt to add players to help the penalty kill in an effort that Hextall didn’t quite seem to care to do, and maybe that will make the difference for Laperriere this time around. And maybe experienced, veteran NHL coaches behind the bench will be able to help Laperriere extract the most out of his players in those key situations.

Maybe things will be different when the Flyers a down a man (or two) this coming season, but we’ve got five years of data to suggest that Laperriere is just not a good coach and we probably shouldn’t be expecting things to get better.

Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault overhauled the coaching staff, but failed to make the most obvious change that they could have. We’re not sure just what they think Ian Laperriere brings to the table, but they’d had better get used to disappointment because that’s about the only thing this man can deliver in this role.