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For Flyers, New Coach Should Be Secondary to Roster Changes

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Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers offseason
Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has an important summer ahead. He needs to add a coach and redo the roster.

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.

One.

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.

PHN: Johnny Gaudreau to the Flyers this summer? It’ll be now or never.

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R M

Darn right Sam. The bottom line in hockey is goals scored. The ability to stick the puck in the net and light the lamp is what championship teams need. They need goal scorers. The problem with the analytics, and the way a players point total is calculated is it give too much weight to assists, and not enough to goals. It would seem to be a more realistic and value based stat if a goal was worth one point, the first assist was worth half a point, and the second assist would be counted one-quarter of a point. That would be a more true measure of a player’s value to a team than the present calculation where an assist is worth the same as a goal scored. Expected goals means nothing. Goals scored means everything. Would I rather have a high assist guy or a goal scorer like Tim Kerr, or Roenick, or Mark Recchi? Give me the guy with the skill to stick it behind the goalie every time.

It would be fascinating to see a compiled list of all NHL players ranked by their points using the above counting system. If I were GM, I would have my keypad tappers get me this list and figure out how I can acquire the highest ranked players I possibly can. That is how I would start rebuilding this team, to hunt down stud superstar scorers. I would trade the guys that have high point totals per the current point attribution system to other teams that are not smart enough to see true value. In other words, I want true gold, not the fools gold that assist heavy, goal light players offer.

The problem the Flyers have is that they need scorers, guys who beat the goalie a lot, who are not just good passers, but score goals, and lots of them. This team does not have any. None. Zip. Nadda. JVR is the closest. They need a couple of 40 goal scorers. Unfortunately, Fletcher is probably not capable of getting this done. If he was, in the five years he has run this team, he would have acquired one or two along the way.

Superunoriginal

If we could believe that the Flyers’ roster was good enough to compete now, then hiring the right coach would be the next big step. The last time that really happened was when the Flyers fired Lavy. He’s a great coach and he had a good roster, but they underperformed and he basically lost them. And he was out.

I think AV’s problem was he’s a good coach who was given an average roster to work with. He produced good results that first year, and Fletcher and Scott thought that was the sign of things to come. Remember, the hallmark of the Flyers is that they’re a streaky team, lacking in consistency on offense and defense for…I don’t know how long. Fletcher may have drawn bad conclusions based on limited data, and it continues to be the foundation of his mindset 2+ years later. “If we could only get back to those three months in 2019-2020…”

By comparison, look at the rosters of the Hurricanes, Devils, and Rangers (or even the Kings and Red Wings, if you want to expand it). You know those are going to be good teams in a few years. Much like the Maple Leafs or Oilers for the past 5 years, or the Avalanche before that. An abundance of high-end talent that was demonstrating potential…they just need(ed) the right coach to make the most out of the available ingredients.

The Flyers offer no such promise. Management itself has indicated they’re (at least) 3 high-end players from being competitive. They lack the resources to acquire all of those players in one off-season. It will take at least three years. What does that say for the coach they hire? “Try to turn this average team into a contender.” It’s asking the impossible, and smart coaches recognize that. I’m not so sure Scott or Fletcher do.

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