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Flyers Can Learn from Penguins Firing Todd Reirden

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The Pittsburgh Penguins fired another coach from the organization on Friday, this time dismissing Todd Reirden, one of Mike Sullivan’s assistants. While this was assuredly a tough decision by Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Flyers can learn a thing or two.

This is also not to say that the Flyers should be firing John Tortorella or any of the members of his coaching staff. In fact, the opposite.

Time waits for nobody; when it’s time for change, it’s time for change. The Flyers have had the NHL’s worst power play for three years in a row, and it hasn’t shown any signs of improving. Not even a little bit.

At his exit interview, Flyers general manager Danny Briere named Patrick Sharp, Dany Heatley, and John LeClair as voices in the organization the team can turn to for fresh ideas for the power play. But, if assistant coach Rocky Thompson excelled at coaching the power play, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Thompson has, however, excelled at developing some of the team’s younger forwards. Players like Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett, Tyson Foerster, and even Travis Konecny have made strides under Thompson’s tutelage.

For the Flyers, it would make much more sense to reduce some of Thompson’s responsibility by outsourcing a coach specifically for the power play. Indeed, the Flyers are not meant to contend next season or even the year after that, but you cannot develop a group of players into their prime years with none of them knowing how to play on a real power play at the NHL level.

Teams like Vegas, Colorado, and Tampa Bay don’t rely on their defensemen to jack up shots from anywhere as their main scoring look with an extra player or two on the ice. Part of it is natural offensive instincts, yes, and confidence plays a big part in that, too.

If the Penguins felt that the 30th-ranked power play was unacceptable enough to potentially infuriate Sullivan by firing one of his coaches, the Flyers’ standards need to be even higher to catch them.

Sullivan won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, but has now missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. When it’s time for change, it’s time for change. The Flyers cannot run from this.

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