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Barry Trotz to Flyers? It makes sense … if he is interested



Philadelphia Flyers, Chuck Fletcher
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher had a surprising candidate enter the team's coaching search Monday -- Barry Trotz, who was fired by the Isles.

Barry Trotz’s pain may turn into the Philadelphia Flyers’ gain.

Trotz, one of the most successful coaches in NHL history, was stunningly fired Monday by the New York Islanders. And guess which team is in the market for a coach who can revitalize a sorry-looking franchise?

Yep, your Philadelphia Flyers.

First, let’s be clear: Trotz won’t instantly transform the sad-sack Flyers into Stanley Cup contenders. There’s lots of work that the front office needs to do, and this isn’t going to be an overnight process.

Is Trotz, who is 59, willing to patiently nurture the team? If he wants to challenge for a Cup right away, well, he will have plenty of other options.

Coaches galore

Whoever is named, he will become Philly’s seventh coach in the last nine years.

The problem hasn’t been coaching. The problem has been talent, or the lack of it. Hiring Trotz won’t instantly make Chuck Fletcher a better general manager, won’t magically turn Ivan Provorov into Cale Makar, won’t transform a team of middle-six forwards into top-line performers.

Fletcher needs to have a big offseason — signing UFA left winger Johnny Gaudreau would be a good start — and change the culture of a team that has won one playoff series in 10 years.

And this year missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.

And had the NHL’s worst record from New Year’s Day until the end of the season.

I’m not piling on. Just giving the facts.

Slew of injuries

Oh, there were a slew of injuries to key players, and that should not be taken lightly. As interim coach Mike Yeo astutely pointed out, Scotty Bowman couldn’t have won with this battered club.

So, if Fletcher is able to make some positive moves, would that maybe entice Trotz to come here?

Here’s hoping, because the guy is a proven winner, even more so than the accomplished Alain Vigneault, whose firing made no sense in December.

Trotz, you may recall, resigned from the Washington Capitals shortly after leading them to their first Stanley Cup in 2018. The Caps didn’t want to pay Trotz, and he skipped away.

He built Nashville into a Western Conference mini-power during his 15 seasons in Music City. Trotz then spent four years with the Caps and four with the Islanders. This season, the Isles (37-35-10) missed the playoffs for the first time in Trotz’s four years with the club. Because their new arena wasn’t ready, New York started the season with 13 straight road games. And never recovered.

Trotz is still a winner, and his defensive structure would be greatly appreciated by Carter Hart. The former coach-of-the-year had a 152-102-34 record with the Islanders, and was 28-21 in the playoffs with the team, losing in the third round to eventual Stanley Cup champ Tampa Bay in the previous two tournaments.

There are already rumblings that Trotz could be a great fit in Winnipeg, which is where he was born. He reportedly will take a week before exploring any options.

Trotz is the third-winningest coach in NHL history (914-670-60-168), and has a .567 winning percentage. And, remember, several of his early years were losing seasons as he molded the expansion Predators into a competitive team.

The Flyers aren’t an expansion team, but they need so much rebuilding that they might as well be.

Trotz has experience building bottom feeders, and if he has the patience to accept the challenge and do it in Philly, well, he’d be a no-brainer to hire.

Before Trotz entered the picture, there were other intriguing candidates, including former coaches John Tortorella, Rick Tocchet, Joel Quenneville, and current assistants Derek Lalonde (Lightning), Lane Lambert (Isles), and Jim Montgomery (Blues).

From here, the suddenly available Trotz trumps all of them.

PHN: Flyers hope to climb in Tuesday’s draft lottery¬†

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