The Alain Vigneault era is over. The Flyers have officially fired Vigneault as head coach after Sunday night’s demoralizing 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, extending the team’s losing streak to eight games.
With Vigneault gone, the Flyers are now embarking on a search to find a full-time replacement behind the bench. A report has already surfaced that former Flyer Rick Tocchet could be one of the top candidates for the position, but the team isn’t expected to make a new hire before Monday night’s tilt against the Colorado Avalanche. In fact, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reported Monday morning that the Flyers have not yet spoken to any external candidates about taking over for Vigneault.
Until a full-time replacement is identified, Mike Yeo will serve as the Flyers’ interim head coach. He will be the Flyers’ sixth head coach since the start of the 2013-14 season.
Yeo was hired as an assistant coach in May of 2019 to oversee the Flyers’ penalty kill under Vigneault — the Flyers’ PK ranks 24th in the NHL since the start of the 2019-20 season. Yeo’s tenure in Philadelphia certainly hasn’t been flawless, but the 48-year-old has seven years of head coaching experience under his belt and actually saw a fair bit of success in his two previous stops.
Yeo, a native of Scarborough, Ontario, earned his first NHL head coaching gig in 2011 when he took over for Todd Richards as the Minnesota Wild’s bench boss. It was former Wild and current Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher who gave him that opportunity in Minnesota. After an unimpressive first campaign in Minnesota that saw the team miss the playoffs with a 35-36-11 record, he guided the Wild to three consecutive postseason appearances. Yeo’s Wild advanced to the second round of the playoffs in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, but were never able to reach the Western Conference Final.
Yeo was fired 55 games into the 2015-16 season after going 1-11-2 in his final 14 games behind the Minnesota bench. Still, it didn’t take him long to earn another opportunity as an NHL head coach. After joining the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach, he took over for Ken Hitchcock behind the Blues’ bench midway through the 2016-17 season — not unlike his current situation with the Flyers. He coached the Blues to the second round of the playoffs that season, but once again was unable to advance any further.
He remained the Blues’ head coach in 2017-18, but failed to return to the postseason. Just 19 games into the 2018-19 season, the Blues fired Yeo and replaced him with Craig Berube. Berube then led St. Louis to its first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.
Overall, Yeo has a 246-181-55 record as an NHL head coach. He’s led teams to the postseason several times in the past, even while having the “interim” label slapped onto him, and has demonstrated that he’s capable of orchestrating a mid-season turnaround for an underperforming group.
From injuries to power-play woes, this Flyers team is riddled with issues, but given Yeo’s track record, it’s not completely out of the question that this disheveled squad could experience something similar.