clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Drawing on history, will the in-season coaching change move the needle for the Flyers?

Using history as our guide as to whether Alain Vigneault being replaced by Mike Yeo will produce tangible results for the Flyers the rest of the way.

Arizona Coyotes v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

When the Philadelphia Flyers pulled the plug on the Alain Vigneault era on Monday after 22 games, it marked the ninth time the club has made a head coaching change midseason.

Ironically, the bench boss taking over for Vigneault — Mike Yeo, at least in the interim — was himself a victim of this very in-season change when the St. Louis Blues fired him after 21 games in 2018-19. That team, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup with former Flyers coach Craig Berube behind the bench as the interim.

The the big question is whether the Flyers’ 2021-22 version can pull a 2018-19 Blues and deliver the ultimate turnaround story ending with Lord Stanley’s Cup.

With that in mind, we take a quick look at the other instances the Flyers fired a coach midseason to see if they moved the needle and what expectations could be with Yeo moving forward in the post-AV era.

2018-19: Scott Gordon replaces Dave Hakstol

Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers
“I’m not very good at it, but it doesn’t matter.” — Dave Hakstol — Mr. Rogers
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The most recent example also coincides when those Blues took off on their run to a Stanley Cup, but provided largely average results for the Flyers.

Hakstol — and general manager Ron Hextall — lasted 31 games before Paul Holmgren had seen enough of the Flyers’ new vision.

Gordon was promoted from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League and coached the Flyers to a 25-22-4 mark to close out the season, and 16 points out of a playoff spot.

The highs were high and the lows were equally low — dueling eight-game winning and losing streaks — as Gordon’s Flyers played hard but remained a largely flawed roster construction with bad goaltending torpedoing any hopes before Carter Hart’s arrival.

Verdict: Needle slightly up — but only because of Hart and not necessarily Gordon

2013-14: Berube replaces Peter Laviolette

Even after a terribly disappointing and truly bizarre exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs two seasons prior and a postseason miss in the lockout shortened following season altogether, the Flyers brought back embattled bench boss Peter Laviolette…for all of three games.

Laviolette’s Flyers mustered three goals in three games to start the season and he was out. Early returns weren’t great for Berube, either, as the Flyers lost seven of their fist eight games and failed to score more than two goals in any of them.

But the initial struggles proved to fade as the Flyers surged after their slow start and finished the season third in the Metropolitan with 94 points and a first-round date with the New York Rangers. They’d go on to lose that series in seven games but were competitive enough to earn Berube the full-time gig for the following season.

Verdict: Need pointing up

2009-10: Laviolette replaces John Stevens

Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers
The fiery Laviolette produced results for the Flyers almost immediately, nearly ending a lengthy Cup drought with one magical and improbable postseason run.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

After two successful seasons under Stevens in which the Flyers won 86 games and reached the playoffs twice — including a run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2007-08— time had run thin just 25 games into the season.

Losers of five of six by the time the former Stanley Cup champion Laviolette hopped behind the bench, the Flyers prompted laid an egg against the Capitals with a 8-2 loss to welcome their new coach.

Though the end result was a memorable run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Flyers didn’t take off under Lavy until the playoffs — where, to be fair, a ton of weird stuff happened.

After all, the Flyers needed a rare shootout win over Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers — one of their just 53 all-time — just to make the postseason.

Verdict: Need up — could even say “jammed” up

2006-07: Stevens replaces Ken Hitchcock

People forget how truly bad that initial post-lockout Flyers team was. Hitchcock is a Hall of Fame type coach and he couldn’t do anything to mold the club into anything resembling a competent team with Peter Forsberg oft-injured, a team save percentage below .900, and actual traffic cones and turnstiles on defense.

When Stevens came aboard it was clear that even with modern thinking behind the bench the Flyers were in dire need of a total makeover for hockey’s 21st century.

Verdict: Needle down, expectedly and unavoidably

2000-01: Bill Barber replaces Craig Ramsay

Things got pretty wild with the the Flyers coaching staff from the moment that Terry Murray’s team flamed out in the 1997 Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings.

Craig Ramsay took over for Roger Neilson, who didn’t return due to medical reasons. But Ramsay didn’t last long as the Flyers’ malaise to start the following season after blowing a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final to the New Jersey Devils would cost their coach his job after just 28 games.

Former Flyers great Bill Barber stepped in and was able to right the ship as he amassed a 31-13-7-3 record. A disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the first-round of the playoffs capped a strange season for the Flyers, though Barber was able to prevent things from totally unraveling.

Verdict: Needle up, sort of

1997-98: Roger Neilson replaces Wayne Cashman

The Flyers coaching carousel was evident in the last 1990’s and early 2000’s and none more evident that Cashman being replaced after 61 games by Neilson only for Cashman to serve as the assistant to Neilson the rest of the way.

A flame-out in the first-round to the Sabres capped a strange year in which Neilson produced just a 10-9-2 record after supplanting Cashman.

Verdict: Needle flat

1991-92: Bill Dineen replaces Paul Holmgren

Stuck in what is the longest stretch of their history without a playoff appearance (five-straight seasons), the mediocrity of the Flyers under Paul Holmgren following the miraculous run to within two games of the Stanley Cup Final in 1988-89 was too much to bear.

Out was Holmgren and in was Bill Dineen, a standout coach in the World Hockey Association. Despite winning two WHA championships, Dineen couldn’t muster much more than his predecessor out of the Flyers — posting a 24-23-9 record to close the 1991-92 season, good for dead-last in the Patrick Division.

Verdict: Needle slightly down, expectedly

1981-82: Bob McCammon replaces Pat Quinn

If you thought the coaching moves from the franchise were screwy up top, get a load of the Quinn/McCammon swaps from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

The second instance featured McCammon getting the last laugh in Philadelphia, though Quinn would later replace him in Vancouver to make things even weirder.

Verdict: Needle flat

1978-79: Quinn replaces McCammon

2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Alumni Game Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

In the original Quinn/McCammon swap the Flyers improved almost immediately and parlayed the change into a dominant follow-up season that unfortunately ran into the juggernaut New York Islanders.

Verdict: Needle up


Overall the Flyers’ midseason coaching changes have produced neutral to positive results, with the home run scenario being the Laviolette for Stevens swap — which is absolutely now going to happen because the hockey Gods owe Mike Yeo one.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Broad Street Hockey Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A weekly roundup of Philadelphia Flyers news from Broad Street Hockey