Coaching Changes Ahead for Flyers?BREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
The Philadelphia Flyers released a press statement today that Joe Paterson, head coach of the Adirondack Phantoms, has been relieved of his duties.
Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren stated, “As an organization, we feel the Phantoms need a new voice moving forward. We would like to thank Joe for his hard work and service to the Phantoms over the past season and a half, but we feel a new direction is needed at this time.”
No replacement has been named.
The announcement came as a surprise to many who followed the Phantoms over the last few years. Paterson had replaced former Phantoms head coach Greg Gilbert in December of 2010 and led the Phantoms on a 25-16-0 run to close out the 2010-11 AHL season. It wasn’t enough to secure a playoff berth, but it was a positive direction for a team that was mired in a tailspin.
The Phantoms failed to make it to the playoffs again this season, finishing with a 37-35-0 record under Paterson. In spite of the failure to make it to the post-season, Paterson had done a great job in preparing the players for the bevy of NHL call-ups that took place over the course of this past season.
It’s difficult to imagine that the Flyers would blame Paterson for how this past season unfurled, especially considering how many of their top prospects (Brayden Schenn, Eric Wellwood, Erik Gustafsson, etc.) spent considerable time with the big club. Instead, this movie is likely a precursor to hiring Peter Laviolette’s eventual replacement.
If you look at many of the recent coaching hirings in the NHL over the last few seasons (that took place before the season started), there is a common trend of promoting either assistant NHL coaches or top junior level coaches who also coached in the AHL.
Kirk Muller was an assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens before taking on the head coaching position with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Guy Boucher was a premiere QMJHL coach (for one season at least) and AHL coach before he was hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Former Flyer Kevin Dineen coached the Portland Pirates of the AHL for six seasons before he began his coaching career with the Florida Panthers.
Paterson was never going to figure into the Flyers’ coaching plans, regardless of how the Phantoms’ season ended. The impetus for a coaching change would be difficult to justify had the Phantoms been more successful, but that’s irrelevant at this point.
For discussion’s sake, there are two coaches that would make good replacements for Paterson moving forward.
The first is Gerard Gallant, current head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs. Gallant was an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders for six seasons as well as head coach of the Blue Jackets for two seasons. His record in Columbus was an abysmal 56-81-4 in that span, but he has since been phenomenal with the Sea Dogs.
Gallant was named QMJHL and CHL coach of the year in back-to-back years with the Sea Dogs and led them to a Memorial Cup victory in 2011. While his NHL coaching record leaves much to be desired, perhaps his time in the junior leagues will have better prepared him for a second chance.
The second suggestion was actually made by David Strehle of SBNation on twitter, but it just makes too much sense to not to consider it here- Mike Haviland.
Haviland, who hails from Middletown, NJ, began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Trenton Titans, the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate, in 1999. He was promoted to head coach when the team was moved to Atlantic City and led the franchise to two Kelly Cups in his four year stint as head coach.
Haviland left the organization in 2005 to take on AHL coaching stints with the Norfolk Admirals and the Rockford Icehogs. His coaching record over the three years split between both teams was an impressive 137-77-0. Haviland was also named the AHL coach of the year in the 2006-07 season.
Haviland spent the next four seasons as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a member of the coaching staff that defeated the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. He was fired this offseason from the ‘Hawks in part because of the team’s poor special teams play, but many suspect he was just being used as a scapegoat for larger issues within management.
Haviland has shown he can be a successful coach at the ECHL and AHL levels as well as a decent assistant NHL coach. With his ties to the Flyers and the South Jersey area, he’d be a perfect fit for the organization as a replacement for Paterson, and perhaps someday, Laviolette.
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