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Philadelphia Flyers

Mike Yeo is out; Flyers have lots of coaching candidates

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Philadelphia Flyers, Chuck Fletcher, Mike Yeo
GM Chuck Fletcher and interim coach Mike Yeo in a file photo. Fletcher said Yeo will not return as the head coach.

Mike Yeo, who compiled a 17-36-7 record as the Philadelphia Flyers’ interim coach, is out, general manager Chuck Fletcher announced at a news conference Tuesday in Voorhees.

“We dealt Mike a really tough hand,” Fletcher said, referring to all the injuries the Flyers, who were already missing some key players, piled up after Yeo replaced the fired Alain Vigneault on Dec. 6. The Flyers were 8-10-4 at the time.

“He’s a good coach,” Fletcher said of Yeo, “and I thought he did a really good job under the circumstances. He had the players playing hard until the end.”

Fletcher called Yeo, a former head coach in Minnesota (five years) and St. Louis (three years), a “good hockey man.” He said if Yeo doesn’t end up with a head-coaching job elsewhere, he would like him to remain with the Flyers in some capacity.

He mentioned opportunities in coaching (but not as head coach), player development, scouting, and the front office as possibilities if Yeo doesn’t end up on another team’s staff.

“Obviously he has a lot of first-hand information on our players,” Fletcher said of Yeo, implying that would be helpful if he stayed here.

Fletcher was asked whether he wanted his next coach to be someone who can mold young players? Someone who provided a veteran presence?

He said he and his hockey-operations staff would put together “an ideal candidate profile.”

John Tortorella, Rick Tocchet, Joel Quenneville, and Mike Babcock are among the former coaches available. Ditto Islanders assistant Lane Lambert, Tampa Bay assistant Derek Lalonde, and St, Louis assistant Jim Montgomery.

PHN: Would John Tortorella be the answer to mold ‘soft’ Flyers?

“We’re going to go through a very thorough discussion on what we’re trying to achieve,” Fletcher said. “At this stage, all options are open.”

The Philadelphia Flyers finished with their second-worst record ever (25-46-11). They missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, both under Fletcher, for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.

“Once we build that candidate profile in what we’re looking for, we’ll reach out to candidates,” Fletcher said.

He said there wasn’t a timetable for naming the team’s seventh coach since 2013.

“The important thing is to get the right coach,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said it was a “tough season” and that the biggest problem was that the Flyers always seemed to be defending and didn’t have the puck enough.

In his closeout interview, Philadelphia Flyers right winger Cam Atkinson said the team was too soft to play against.

“I think we did add some tougher players this year,” said Fletcher, referring to Rasmus Ristolainen and Zack MacEwen, among others. “I’m not sure toughness was an issue, but going back to what I said earlier, when you defend all the time, you create problems. You are constantly battling in front of the net and are stuck in the corner.”

He said the team’s “ability to get the puck and have better puck support will allow us to play with the puck more often. That is where we were in 2019-20, and that is where we have to get back to.”

Breakaways

Samuel Morin’s career is over, per Fletcher, who said the big defenseman couldn’t recover three knee surgeries. He will be offered a job in the organization, Fletcher said. … Fletcher expects to be busy in the offseason. “You could look at every area of our team,” he said about improvements that are needed. … Overall, Yeo has a 263-217-62 record (.542 winning percentage) in nine coaching seasons. … Fletcher expects Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov, 25, to soon sign with the Flyers and compete for the No. 2 job next season. He was a Flyers seventh-round selection in 2015. … As for naming the next captain — Sean Couturier is the favorite — Fletcher said “that’s about No. 20 on our (to-do) list right now. … Fletcher reiterated that the goal is to have injured defenseman Ryan Ellis be able to start the season with the Flyers. … The GM said he couldn’t comment on his interest to sign Claude Giroux if he becomes an unrestricted free agent because it would be considered tampering.  Giroux, of course, was dealt to Florida before the trade deadline. 

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