All of sudden, a new candidate has emerged for the Flyers’ vacant head coaching gig.
Barry Trotz, a Stanley Cup-winner and two-time Jack Adams Award recipient, was fired by the New York Islanders Monday morning after four seasons with the club. Trotz, 59, has a whopping 23 seasons of experience as an NHL head coach and has a 914-670-60-168 record in 1,812 games behind an NHL bench.
Trotz spent 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators as the franchise’s first-ever head coach from 1998 to 2014. He then joined the Washington Capitals prior to the 2014-15 season and eventually went on to win his first Stanley Cup in 2018. Despite his successful run with the Capitals, he left the team immediately after their Stanley Cup victory due to a contract dispute and joined the Islanders, where he finished with a 152-102-34 record.
Even with other successful coaches like John Tortorella and Jim Montgomery looking for work, Trotz immediately becomes the hottest commodity on the NHL head coaching market, and it would be surprising if the Flyers didn’t take a swing at hiring him.
Last week, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher revealed in his end-of-season press conference that Mike Yeo, who served as the Flyers’ head coach on an interim basis after the firing of Alain Vigneault, would not return as head coach for the 2022-23 season. The Flyers still intend to compete next season, as evidenced by the team’s “aggressive retool” strategy going into the offseason, and Trotz is more than equipped to turn a team like the Flyers into a competitive club.
“We just really struggled this year. We were defending all the time, and that’s something we have to look at. We weren’t exiting the D-zone well enough, so there are certainly things we have to look at in terms of our structure, our details,” said Fletcher.
“We didn’t have the puck enough, and when you defend all the time, bad things happen.”
The Flyers were defending too much, and not well enough. Luckily, Trotz is one of the better defensive coaches the NHL has seen in recent memory.
Trotz-coached teams aren’t known for lightning up the scoreboard, but they do an outstanding job of making life miserable for opposing offenses. In his first three seasons with the Islanders, Trotz’s teams finished with just 564 goals scored at all strengths — good for eighth-fewest in the league. However, his teams allowed fewer goals against than any team in the NHL during that span, and that defensively-sound system has resulted in a whole lot of wins over the years.
Trotz’s postseason record (83-79) could be better, but at this point, just getting to the playoffs would far surpass the majority of expectations for the Flyers in their current form.
“The important thing is to get the right coach. Get the right fit, right chemistry,” said Fletcher. “As long as it takes, that’s what we’ll take.”
Maybe — just maybe — Trotz could be that right fit.