For Flyers, New Coach Should Be Secondary to Roster Changes
General manager Chuck Fletcher is looking for a new coach to turn around a Philadelphia Flyers team that finished with the second-worst record in franchise history.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t think the new hire is going to be a savior, even if it’s the great Barry Trotz.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t give the new hire the same roster and think that, if it stays healthy, the outlook will be much different.
Here’s hoping he will learn that, over the last decade, it hasn’t been the coach as much as the roster that has produced one playoff series victory.
The new hire will be the Flyers’ seventh coach in the last nine years, including the interim bosses.
One of the seven coaches was Craig “Chief” Berube, who was fired by GM Ron Hextall after the 2014-15 season.
At the time, Hextall said he wanted a coach who “squeezes the most out of your players.”
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In retrospect, Berube wasn’t given enough time. He only had one full season with the team, and the Philadelphia Flyers went 33-31-18, including 3-11 in shootouts.
Since then, he has become one of the NHL’s best coaches, compiling a .640 winning percentage (156-80-36) in four years with St. Louis, which he led to its first Stanley Cup in 2019.
That said, the Blues’ roster has been much deeper than the Flyers, and St. Louis’ players have been much tougher to play against.
This spring, the Blues, who had 109 points in the regular season, have taken more-powerful Colorado to Game 6 in the Western Conference semifinals.
Yes, Berube is squeezing the most out of his roster.
Berube is a great coach, but his 2021-22 roster is night and day compared to the Flyers’. The Blues had nine players with at least 20 goals. The Flyers had two.
Bottom line: Fletcher needs to upgrade the roster significantly, and that won’t be easy because he has the team in a very bad cap situation.
Enhancing the roster is Fletcher’s most important job in the offseason, not naming another coach. He needs to add speed, needs to add scorers, needs to add players who play with an edge. Oh, and he needs to upgrade the awful special teams.
If he doesn’t, the new coach will just be an expensive Band-Aid.