Kinkead: this story was originally published on Sunday and has since been updated.

Via Anthony:

“While Joel Quenneville was the apple of Comcast Spectacor Chairman Dave Scott’s eye from the minute he was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks, Quenneville has the luxury of being patient and not accepting another gig right away if he feels a better situation might present itself in the near future (read: offseason). Quenneville is still being paid his $6 million salary to not coach Chicago and to do shots in the parking lot of Soldier Field at Bears games, or skiing in Colorado, where he is now, so there is no rush for him. Quenneville’s patience could likely lead Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher in another direction rather than waiting for Quenneville to get on board. That said, Comcast could throw a ridiculous sum of money his way and make the decision a quick one. Quenneville is not out of the conversation, but he’s certainly not a lock at this point. Quenneville was never Fletcher’s preferred hire, though he might be willing to accept him at the behest of his bosses – not because Quenneville isn’t a good coach, but he may not be the right fit right now. I had originally heard Mike Yeo was high on Fletcher’s list, and while that may still be the case I’m told by a team source he’s not the top target at the moment. Efforts to reach Scott this morning for comment about the entire situation went unanswered.”


Dave Hakstol coached his last game with the Flyers. Scott Gordon of the Phantoms will coach the squad on an interim basis.

There’ll be a press conference and General Manager Chuck Fletcher, flanked on one side by Flyers President Paul Holmgren and on the other by Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO Dave Scott, will feed the world one cliche after another about why a new voice was needed.

But what if Fletcher doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s about to tell you? What if internally, inside the hockey operations side of this organization, people truly believe that Dave Hakstol is a good coach?

What if this coaching change is really more about optics and pressure from above to hit a home run?

What if?

“That’s a great question,” one Flyers source said to me last night. “And I can’t tell you you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

That’s because Scott has been interested in pursuing Joel Quenneville almost since the minute he was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks last month.

And why not? Quenneville won three Stanley Cups in six seasons with the Blackhawks. The guy has a great track record and one that would certainly bring an instant infusion of interest and excitement to an apathetic fan base.

It was one of those conversations, though, that didn’t go well with former GM Ron Hextall.

So, Hextall was fired. For far many more reasons than this, but this was certainly on the list.

With the addition of Fletcher, Scott agreed to give him time to evaluate what he has on the roster and the coaching staff. But that willingness to be patient has dried up rapidly.

When the team looks as bad as it has in the past four games – all losses – and has fallen into last place by themselves in the Eastern Conference, and is tied for the third-worst record in the league, it can lead to a lot of public angst and make a bigwig like Scott concerned about the perception of his team.

But the Flyers are 2-4-2 since firing Hextall. It’s not good, but it’s not pathetic. There have been many worse eight game stretches than those in which you register six points.

And is six games enough time to give Fletcher to make all the evaluations he needs? Maybe, maybe not.

But the reality is, keeping the fanbase happy is also part of the business, and even if internally among hockey people there is a belief that Hakstol is still the right coach for this team despite all the outside noise, the people who sign the checks sometimes feel they have to consider more than just what the hockey people advise.

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of Hakstol as a coach. If you go back and read many of my posts from last season, you will see that I would have made a change at coach last season.

However, once I was given real insight into what was going on behind the scenes during Hextall’s tenure, even I felt like Hakstol probably deserved a chance to redeem this team post-Hextall.

Frankly, I would have been, and still would be O.K. with letting him coach the rest of the season.

But that’s likely because I don’t see this team as one that’s good enough to make the playoffs this season. After all, they’re eight points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and 10 points out of a wild card spot. They would need to go on an extended hot run to make up those differences AND hold on to a playoff spot.

That’s very unlikely to happen folks.

But the problem is Scott and to an extent Holmgren already told us at Hextall’s firing that the impetus for the organization is to “win now.”

That might have been delusional on the part of Scott, because I never really felt Holmgren believed it was possible as the team was currently constructed – which is why he was chaffed with Hextall.

But Scott’s influences are not all rooted in actual hockey. Sure, he leans on Holmgren and now Fletcher to give him an update on the team’s progress, but really, his decisions are driven by the business side of things. When 12-15% of tickets out are not coming back through the door with regularity, that bothers him. When television ratings are down, even slightly, that bothers him.

And to be fair to Scott, that should bother him. The business side is what matters most, ultimately, to a corporate owner.

But sometimes corporate decisions are being made for wrong-headed reasons.

It’s like when an immensely popular television show is cancelled on one network and picked up by another. Why was it cancelled? Business decisions. Money talks baby, even if it wasn’t the smartest call.

So, Hakstol really doesn’t have a chance here.

And Scott REALLY wants to pursue Quenneville. Not because he’s necessarily the right coach for this group, but rather because that hiring would be viewed as hitting it out of the park by the public and might put some more butts in seats.

But how different from Hakstol really is Quenneville? At least from how he handles his personnel?

More after the jump:

Bill is spot on with this. Quenneville is at a point in his coaching career where he expects to go into a situation where he has to coach to win now, not to develop young players.

“This is where things get tough for Chuck,” another Flyers source told me yesterday. “If he’s going to make a change at coach, he would want to do it with a guy he really wants and believes is a good fit for the team right now, not a guy he has to settle for who might not be the best fit.”

The source went on to say Fletcher doesn’t dislike Quenneville. He added that Fletcher has a lot of respect for Quenneville and thinks he’s a great coach.

“But is he the right guy for this team at this time,” the source asked me back rhetorically.

My thought is that if Fletcher was really going to have it his way with a coaching change, he would want a guy he is familiar with who has a track record of working well with younger players.

Mike Yeo, who he hired in Minnesota, would more fit that bill.

But would Yeo move the needle in the city?

Nope. And that’s why Fletcher may have walked into a position where his hands are tied on this matter.

Listen to the highly respected Chris Johnston, a reporter for SportsNet in Canada and how he explains what might be coming:

The key sentence is this: “With the Flyers wrapping up their road trip in Vancouver, it could be one where Chuck Fletcher is forced to make a change.”

I’ve been in Johnston’s position before. Where you are told something and asked not to report it, but given permission to speculate on it.

Heck, I just went through this with the whole Hextall firing. I explained it in detail on our Snow the Goalie podcast (link at the bottom of the story).

But the way he phrases it – “forced to make a change” – that tells you Fletcher was probably comfortable waiting here, but the urgency is coming from somewhere else (read: Scott).

And if Quenneville is hired as the new coach, the fan base will be instantly thrilled. And he is a good coach, no doubt, so they can be happy.

But nothing will make this team better until there are changes made to the roster.

I take you back to 2006-07, the year widely considered to be the worst in Flyers history. Ken Hitchock was their coach, and he was fired. Bob Clarke resigned as GM. Holmgren came in and took the team with the worst record in the league, and in the span of 18 months turned them into an Eastern Conference finalist.

What did he do:

  • Turned Freddy Meyer into Alexei Zhitnik in December and then flipped Zhitnik for Braydon Coburn two months later.
  • Traded an injured Peter Forsberg to Nashville for Scottie Upshall and a first round pick and then returned that pick to Nashville in a later trade to get the negotiating rights to pending free agents Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, and then signed both of them.
  • Traded a future draft pick for a starting goalie in Martin Biron.
  • Traded Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson and a draft pick for Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith
  • Signed Danny Briere as a free agent.

Five moves. One big name player (Forsberg), A few future draft picks, a once-promising player (Pitkanen), a couple of depth players (Meyer/Zhitnik and Sanderson) and eight players were added to a roster that already included Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and R.J. Umberger.

So, it can be turned around quickly.

If I had to pick a “quintet” from the current team that I would use to plan for a quick turnaround, it would be Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Travis Konencny.

That’s not to say that I would get rid of everyone else, or that anyone else on the list above is completely untouchable. Nolan Patrick is still 20 years old, and although he’s been a disappointment so far, he’s still got major upside. Jake Voracek is a veteran talent who can be the right fit if the rest of the roster makes sense, but I recognize he would bring value if you traded him.

And other players could still fit – they don’t all need to go.

But, what if you traded for a goalie with a little term left on his contract? What if you added a veteran defenseman with a palatable contract? What if you picked up another young forward who can be part of a new core next season and beyond?

What if Wayne Simmonds could be part of a package with the Toronto Maple Leafs that would bring back Kasperi Kapanen?

What if Shayne Gostisbehere was the Joni Pitkanen that netted you two quality veteran players?

What if, after hiring Quenneville, a deal involving good prospects/draft picks could be swung with Chicago that would bring Corey Crawford and Duncan Keith?

What if there were someone out there willing to trade for James van Riemsdyk, since he would likely be a better fit somewhere else than he is right now?

These are the changes that Fletcher has to be considering. These are the roster changes that need to start now, regardless of who the coach is – whether its Hakstol, Quenneville, Yeo or someone else.

The first trade that led to the renaissance the next season that Holmgren made back in 2006 (not counting a small deal for Todd Fedoruk in November) occurred on Dec. 16 when Meyer and a third rounder were traded to the Islanders for Zhitnik.

Today is Dec. 16. The time is now to start this roster upgrade.

If Scott wanted to fire Hakstol, he should have done it with Hextall. Putting Fletcher in this position is not a good look for the organization.

Frankly, Scott should let Fletcher leave well enough alone with the coach for now, reshape the roster the way he likes it, and then replace the coach after the deadline, or the end of the season.

Because, no matter what Scott has said, this team is in no position to “win now” as it is currently constructed.

But let the construction change and then see what happens.

Although it sounds like they aren’t going to do it that way.

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