The Next Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have burned through five coaches since 2015, finding very little success or consistency under any of them. Now that Mike Yeo’s time as interim coach may be coming to an end, the Flyers will once again have to take a look around the league and find themselves a new coach. So far, there have been no real bread crumbs dropped by the organization as to who may or may not be on the radar, but that hasn’t stopped an eager fanbase from guessing who may be the next man up behind the bench.

Paul Maurice

1,685 NHL games. 775-681-99-130 record as head coach

Maurice has spent 24 seasons as an NHL head coach, most recently, an eight-and-a-half year stint with the Winnipeg Jets. He made the playoffs five of his eight seasons, though only advancing to the second round once in 2021. He’s praised for his ability to adapt to the players already on the roster, something that has been highly critiqued with previous Flyers coaches. He runs a solid defensive style, but also allows offensive players to flourish, a mix that could bode well for the Flyers, as every head coach since Peter Laviolette has failed to properly deploy the forwards.

Another underrated aspect is the goaltending tandem he had in Winnipeg. With workhorse Connor Hellebyuck getting a vast majority of the starts, he always seemed to know exactly when to give him a break. A skill that could be easily replicated in Philly with Carter Hart and whoever his backup is next season.

Claude Julien

1,275 NHL games. 667-455-10-152 record as head coach

Known for his defensive structure he deployed with the Bruins, Claude Julien would be another coach heavily reliant on a system, though it worked wonders with the Bruins for the first eight seasons he was there. His prowess for puck possession and sturdy team defense made the Bruins a pain to play against in the early 2010’s proven by their Stanley Cup win in 2011.

He’d be a coach based on a firm structure, something this current team failed to adapt to under Alain Vigneault. Trying that again without major changes on the roster may not be the best chance for success, leading to an exact repeat of players temporarily buying in before giving up and turning on the coach a brief time down the road.

John Tortorella

1,381 NHL games. 673-541-37-132 record as head coach

Torts is about as old school as it’s going to get. His approach is simple- earn your spot. He isn’t afraid to cut ice time, something often threatened but infrequently executed by Flyers coaches, most recently by Mike Yeo. The frequent rookie mistakes made by veterans on the Flyers’ roster wouldn’t be tolerated. He’s a bold leader ready for the challenge of handling weak Flyers locker room that gives up too quick.

He’s known for his physical, grinding game, something the Flyers could use a good dose of as well. He tends to clash with offensively driven players, which is a scenario that probably won’t happen in Philly because they don’t have any.

Torts isn’t afraid to speak his mind. If the front office is looking to give their roster a firm kick in the pants, John Tortorella may be the right guy for the job.

Rick Tocchet

438 NHL games. 178-200-60 record as head coach

Tocchet’s time behind the bench as a head coach with the Coyotes proved to be an interesting one. He took that team further than he had any reason to, making the postseason during the shortened 2020 season. He didn’t exactly have great records with the Lightning or Coyotes, but those weren’t exactly team oozing with talent either.

Tocchet is known for his relaxed but effective system. His forwards carry the into zone with quick and effective striking, as well as their ability to shoot from anywhere, a quality sorely lacking from the current Flyers’ squad.

He’s mainly known for being very good with players, highlighting accountability, but doing it in a calming way. Rather than trying and combat the attitudes on the current roster, like Alain Vigneault did or Tortorella might, Tocchet knows how do deal with people on a case by case basis.

Jim Montgomery

113 NHL games. 60-43-10 record as head coach

Montgomery is a name fans have linked to the Flyers as a potential head coach. The former colligate standout formed the University of Denver into the team they are today. Upon his arrival in Dallas, he took the Stars to their first playoff berth in three seasons. Midway through the 2019-20 season he was fired for what was later confirmed to be alcohol abuse. He went to rehab and is currently an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues.

His players are known for quick and aggressive offense, and a defense built in moving the puck, which could be especially useful if the Flyers intend on building around Travis Sanheim. His players are “always moving” and may be as close to an offense-driven coach as you’ll get these days outside of Peter Laviolette.

Kirk Muller

187 NHL games. 80-80-27 record as head coach.

Muller’s got 10 years of assistant coaching under his belt, most recently with the Montreal Candiens. It was a shocking move when the franchise decided to keep Dominique Ducharme as head coach when Claude Julien was fired instead of Kirk Muller, who seemingly had the position locked up.

Much like Tocchet, he’s praised for his ability to get along with his players and that relationship building is a key aspect to his approach of the game.

The Canadiens slowly shifted to a stingier defensive approach as his tenure in Montreal went on. Muller had an unsuccessful run as head coach during the abysmal down years with the Carolina Hurricanes, but considering he’s been sharpening his teeth as an assistant in recent years, he will be much more prepared for NHL action this time around.

Someone Else?

There’s a never ending list of colligate-level coaches, junior coaches and other NHL retreads to potentially earn the role. Some top-level AHL coaches have recently took assistant gigs in the NHL including Pascal Vincent, Spencer Carbery and Jay Leach. If they’re looking to make the head coaching role, maybe they’re on the radar. If the Flyers stay local, it’s not impossible they look at Ian Laperriere in Lehigh Valley, who is concluding his first season as a head coach.

Does David Quinn or Dan Bylsma get another look in the NHL? Have NHL teams truly moved past Joel Quenneville or Mike Babcock? Do any current coaches from around the league get fired as the season ends? Does Mike Yeo have a chance to stick around? These are all questions that will be asked over the next few weeks as the Flyers’ front office reassesses their position as the season comes to an end. Whoever steps behind the bench for the Flyers next season is going to need all the good luck they can get, because they’ve got the daunting task of salvaging the Philadelphia Flyers in front of them.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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