Joel Quenneville might be the next coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. If the team has the chance to hire him, they can’t pass up the opportunity.
Reports this afternoon suggest the Flyers will fire head coach Dave Hakstol and hire the former Chicago Blackhawks head coach, at least according to Dave Isaac of the Camden Courier-Post.
— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) December 16, 2018
But, the report has been refuted by other outlets.
Joel Quenneville tells me report of him taking Flyers job is not true #NHL
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) December 16, 2018
The move isn’t official, but firing Hakstol appears inevitable regardless of who’s coming in to replace him behind the Flyers bench.
Hakstol was hired by former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall in 2015, previously coaching an extremely successful North Dakota NCAA squad. Despite inheriting a solid roster in Philly, Hakstol was unable to turn the Flyers back into a competitive team. In three full seasons, plus 27 games in 2018-19, Hakstol has led the Flyers to two playoff appearances, with two first-round ousters. Philadelphia has been a good, not great team under his reign.
Philadelphia is coming off a tough Canadian road trip, where the team lost four consecutive games, getting outscored 22-8. On Saturday night, a listless Flyers squad got routed by the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks. With the losses piling up, it seemed more as a “when will the Flyers fire Hakstol?” than “if” they would.
Frankly, it’s surprising Hakstol lasted as long as he did. Philadelphia surprisingly fired general manager Ron Hextall earlier last month, replacing him with Cliff Fletcher. Hextall did a pretty solid job of building both a talented NHL roster and a decent prospect pipeline. Hextall deserved another chance to keep building. Hakstol didn’t.
Quenneville is widely considered one of the game’s best coaches; the 60-year-old has done a lot of winning in his coaching career. In nearly a decade in Chicago, Quenneville led a Blackhawks dynasty to three Stanley Cups with his most recent coming in 2014-15. Chicago struggled in 2017-18 after the team’s cap situation left their roster depleted. The team’s losing record was more on general manager Stan Bowman than Quenneville himself.
Philly’s 12-5-4 record is largely thanks to a league-worst (or near-league worst) penalty kill, power play, and goaltending. Despite plenty of talent existing on the roster, the Flyers have struggled with the basics and have been held back by Hakstol’s inexperience. Quenneville will get the chance to coach numerous good core players, such as Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, and Jakub Voracek. Plus, he’ll see a slew of very good prospects graduate to the big league roster sooner than later. It’s not the worst job to take, as there’s no need for a full teardown rebuild.
The Flyers had to do something to stop the bleeding before the season was lost. Axing Hakstol was necessary. If the club manages to get rid of him and add a coach of Quenneville’s caliber, then Flyers fans should be thrilled. It’s a major upgrade and one that should propel them over the line of mediocrity back into a competitive team. Let’s see if the reports are true. Flyers fans are surely praying that they are.