When the Flyers announced the hiring of Alain Vigneault as the 21st coach in team history there was some skepticism from the fanbase about what exactly he would bring to the team. Yet, upon his arrival he immediately earned the love and trust from the fanbase with his whacky quotes, giving the team’s youth a chance to succeed, and his overall likability.
Now, however, things are starting to change. The “Be a Fucking Flyer” quote was almost a year and a half ago, his love of martinis is growing stale, and he’s starting to feel like a real head coach as the roster is off to a rocky start, regardless of what their record says.
The real breaking point seemed to come during the second intermission of their Thursday night game against the Devils. The Flyers came out to yet another lifeless start and, despite being tied after two periods, it was obvious the Devils were the more driven team. Now, nobody knows what he said in the locker room, but it must have meant something because the team came out with more intensity that we’ve seen all season in the third period and they two goals to secure a 3-1 victory.
Even after the victory, AV made a bombshell change against the Islanders when he sat Travis Konecny in favor of newly-turned forward Samuel Morin. Naturally, this was a move that turned the otherwise loyal fabase on its head, but it was a statement from a coach to his players in his quest to demand more.
Even though Konecny is technically a point-per-game player on the scoresheet, he only had two SOG and one assist in the last three games. Three of his five goals and four of his eight points came against the Penguins during the second game of the season, 15 days before he was taken out of the lineup.
During a press conference before their Saturday night showdown with the Islanders, their first meeting since the playoffs, Vigneault didn’t mince words, stating he “came here to Philly to win a Stanley Cup” and he’s drilling it into his players that there’s a “certain way to play.”
If you just listen to him talk, he is very relaxed, doesn’t yell or scream, but if you actually absorb what he is saying, he is a very unhappy guy. He is calling out players by name, most recently Konecny and Kevin Hayes, and is unenthused with their stale 5-on-5 play.
You have to give the coach credit, he’s trying. He is digging deep into his book of tricks to try and inspire the team to finally play a full, inspired, 60 minutes of hockey. Yet, nothing seems to be happening.
It’s nice to see Vigneault get serious. After a 277-game reign under Dave Hakstol, where nobody had to pay for their mistakes, turning to a coach that is holding his team accountable for their lackluster play is much needed. AV will demand the most this year, and if he doesn’t get it, look for Fletcher to make a few changes to help support his coach during the offseason.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com