Five Questions: The next head coach

Steve Spott

Flyers Faithful revisited a former recurring feature, Five Questions, to address some current hot and important topics, including the draft, prospects, and the future of the Flyers. For this edition of Five Questions, we asked John Saquella, James Centifonti, Jim Butler, Joshua Janet, and our very own Jared Abbott to participate. Below, you will find their answers to today’s question.

Assuming that Peter Laviolette does not return behind the bench next season, who would be your (realistic) top three picks to coach the Flyers? 

John Saquella: I have long been calling for a change behind the bench, and my first choice was Jon Cooper. So, that aside, I’d go with the following: Dallas Eakins of the Toronto Marlies, Steve Spott of the Kitchener Rangers and Guy Boucher, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The common trait is all have experience and good track records in handling young talent. I would not be closed minded to other names with NHL experience, but I think that with such a young roster, teaching is as important as motivation.

James Centifonti: As far as coaches I don’t want an NHL rerun coach.  I’m down to Greg Ireland who is right now coaching Owen Sound in the OHL (as coached in the AHL), Steve Spott who is coach/GM of Kitchener in the OHL, or Dallas Easkins currently the Toronto Marlies coach in the AHL.

Jim Butler: If Laviolette is not back I hope they go for a coach that’s more of a teacher/builder. Dallas Eakins would be a great candidate. Guy Boucher is now available but I’m not sure if his 1-3-1 style would fly too well in Philadelphia. Lindy Ruff’s name will be mentioned and he was a very solid coach in Buffalo.

Joshua Janet: I don’t know if any of these count as “realistic,” but they’re coaches I’d rather be considered than Lindy Ruff.

  1. Craig MacTavish- Bob H already covered this well in a previous Flyers Faithful post, but MacTavish is a coach with ample NHL head coaching experience. He hasn’t been behind the bench in some time, but time away from the grind can sometimes give a coach fresh perspective on the game. Worked for Michel Therrien, right? As a former Flyer, he has an “in’ with the organization as well, considering how “incestuous” they can be about hiring former players.
  2. Mike Haviland – I wanted the Flyers to hire Haviland as the Adirondack Phantoms coach before they decided that bringing back Terry Murray… again… would breathe new life into their floundering farm team. Haviland, a native of Middletown, NJ, coached the Trenton Titans and the Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL for six seasons (winning two championships there) before spending three seasons behind the bench in the AHL. From there, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, including that one time in 2010 when that thing happened that we don’t have to talk about (other than for how awkward James van Riemsdyk felt when there was a Stanley Cup parade in his hometown that year… for some reason).
    Haviland doesn’t have any NHL head coaching experience, but he’s spent 14 years coaching professional hockey. He was even a finalist for the Winnipeg Jets head coaching position. At this point, it isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when” somebody hires him.
  3. Luke Richardson – This is not a realistic option. I know that. He doesn’t have enough of a track record to suggest that he’s ready to take on the pressure of an NHL head coaching position, especially in a big market. He would be, however, a fresh face to consider that does have a reputation for being good with young players.

At the end of the day, whoever is coaching the Flyers is going to need to get the core of young players to buy into the coaching system, and he’s been phenomenal in that area with the Binghamton Senators. Paul Maclean is earning accolades for keeping the Ottawa Senators in playoff contention in spite of injuries, but Richardson is doing it at the AHL level with players with lower ceiling talents.

Jared Abbott: 

  1. Terry Murray – Just a season ago Murray stood behind the Los Angeles Kings’ bench watching a team with deep talent flounder and struggle to score goals. He was canned partway through the season, handing the reigns to Darryl Sutter, who would turn the Kings’ into the Stanley Cup champions. Murray then returned to Philadelphia where he was the head coach from 1994-97 as well as a second stint as a scout and an assistant from 2000-08. As the bench boss of the Flyers’ AHL affiliate in Adirondack, Murray has experience with the prospects playing for the Phantoms, which makes the promotion relatively easy to make. Realistically, Murray is the team’s best option bringing 1,012 NHL games as a coach under his belt, which is the most experience of any AHL coach in the history of the league.
  2. Lindy Ruff – Ruff was the NHL’s longest-tenured head coach before receiving the pink slip on February 21st. Much like Andy Reid, Ruff simply wore-out his welcome after a long stint in one city. Ruff took over the Sabres in 1997 after a four-year stop as an assistant with the Florida Panthers. The former Buffalo captain played for former Flyers’ coach Craig Ramsay if you are searching for an organizational connection. He coaches with fire and passion, which matches the mold the Flyers’ brass have recently followed. Bottom line on Ruff is that he still is a very good coach and a change of scenery could reinvigorate the former Jack Adams Award winner.
  3. Tom Renney – Renney may be the least likely on the list, but I would be excited to see Renney take over this team. With a solid young core of forwards the Flyers offer an attractive roster to any prospective coach. Renney most recently was the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, which has the youngest and arguably most lauded potential in the NHL. However, the team lacked the depth players to turn them into consistent winners. Personally, I think with a young team like that Renney should have been given more time to build around the strong core. This season Renney joined Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit as an assistant. Also a former skipper with the New York Rangers, Renney has experience with the Eastern and Western Conference styles of play. If Renney took over in Philadelphia, I would be very intrigued to see what potential masterpiece he can create with the horns he would inherit.