The Flyers offseason is only entering it’s second day and the angst has already set in.
It’s because of an early morning tweet from another team:
Quenneville has arrived.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 8, 2019
Wait, I thought he was “definitely” coming here?
Let’s get some things out of the way here first:
- The Flyers never offered Quenneville a contract.
- Chuck Fletcher didn’t seek permission from Chicago to speak to him about the Flyers job – not in December and not in April.
- Quenneville, while an attractive name and an impressive resume, probably wasn’t the right fit for a young team like the Flyers as he is not a patient coach.
- I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty, but I’m pretty confident Quenneville let it be known in NHL circles where he wanted to go this offseason and Philadelphia wasn’t the option that interested him the most.
- Not to mention, Quenneville has a pre-existing relationship with Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon from Tallon’s days in the same role in Chicago.
Now, why would Florida be more appealing than Philly? Especially since that team doesn’t draw well and roughly half of the people who do attend games in South Florida are fans of the visiting team.
Well, you can’t beat the weather, for one. But, hockey-wise, they are a draw for a coach, after the jump, because:
- They have more than $17 million in cap space.
- They have established young stars in Alexsander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Vincent Trochek.
- They have a couple of talented veterans in Mike Hoffman and Keith Yandle.
- They are already being linked to Columbus free agents-to-be Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky (Panarin already owns a house in South Florida and both players are represented by the same agent).
- They have a wealth of draft picks to play with as assets as well as a stocked cupboard of young talent on the way, especially at forward positions, as many experts consider them to have a top 10 NHL farm system.
It’s quite simple, this is where Quenneville wanted to be. Buffalo was interested, and they are widely considered to have the best farm system in the NHL. The Flyers are right behind the Sabres in that regard, but when considering everything, Quenneville wanted to be in Florida.
THIS IS NOT THE FLYERS’ FAULT.
Chuck Fletcher didn’t fail here as a general manager in not getting Quenneville.
Quenneville was a bit of a Holy Grail that was being chased in this city for the past four months. And maybe now fans will realize it was never going to happen.
And to be fair to Fletcher, Quenneville was never his type of coach, to be honest.
I had heard last week that Fletcher would consider Bruce Boudreau a leading candidate if he were fired from his job in Minnesota.
Fletcher hired Boudreau there, after all, so that would make sense, but now it’s looking like Boudreau will be given another chance in Minnesota.
The other hot name has been Todd McClellan, but methinks he wants to stay out West and the Los Angeles Kings have asked Edmonton for permission to talk to him, so that makes sense.
So, where do the Flyers go from here?
What if I told you, a former Flyer?
Now wait, don’t go jumping off of bridges just yet screaming “same old Flyers” on your way down.
The guy I’m about to suggest only had a cup of coffee here as a player and had a modicum of success as a coach at the NHL level, but never got over the hump for various reasons that likely didn’t have a lot to do with his coaching, but rather the situation he was in.
I’m talking about Dave Tippett.
Tippett, 57, hasn’t coached in either of the past two seasons and was hired by the unnamed Seattle team (I’m rooting for Krakken) as a senior advisor last September.
But, I’m told he really wants to get back into coaching.
He has coached at the NHL level for 14 years with Dallas and Arizona and reached the Western Conference Finals twice, once with each team. He was also a Jack Adams Award winner as NHL Coach of the Year in 2009-10, his first with the Coyotes.
Arizona’s financial troubles are what did him in eventually. He was being asked to coach a team who was being run by the league, barely spending to the salary floor and fielding a lineup of AAAA players who had no business competing in the NHL.
He’s also the kind of guy who finds ways to get the most of his teams.
That 2011-2012 Arizona team that reached the Western Conference Finals had a 39-year-old Ray Whitney as it’s leading scorer, Radim Vrbata as their second-best scorer, and Shane Doan was third on the team – with only 50 points.
A few years earlier he did the same with an aging Dallas team by eliciting career years from guys like Mike Ribiero and Brenden Morrow.
Tippett is also one of only seven coaches in NHL history to coach his team to successive 50-win season, which he did with Dallas. The other six were/are mostly hockey icons:
- Mike Babcock (Detroit)
- Scotty Bowman (Montreal)
- Tom Johnson (Boston)
- Mike Keenan (FLYERS)
- Glen Sather (Edmonton)
- Fred Shero (FLYERS)
He makes a lot of sense as he is an experienced NHL coach (coached more than 1,100 games), who has had some success, but not the ultimate success, and so that fire still burns.
Plus, he is considered a sharp hockey mind and innovative as well, and would be a good fit with the young players on the Flyers as he was a well-liked coach by players both in Dallas and Arizona.
I know there are other candidates out there. Sheldon Keefe intrigues me a lot as he’s done a nice job coaching the Toronto Marlies in the AHL for the past four seasons, winning the Calder Cup a season ago. I think he has to be on the short list at this point.
As for the other names that have been bandied about like Alain Vigneault or Guy Boucher? Meh. You’d get just as much, if not more, by keeping Scott Gordon as the head coach.