The Philadelphia Flyers fired head coach Alain Vigneault after a 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night. The Flyers have lost eight consecutive games and currently sit 7th in the Metropolitan Division standings. They trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by seven points for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff reported the news first.
Vigneault coached the Flyers for the entirety of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and 22 games in 2021-22. His final record as head coach was 74-54-19. In his first season, Philadelphia made the playoffs and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference by virtue of the round-robin in the Toronto bubble to begin the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They captured their only playoff series win since 2012 against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Vigneault finished second behind Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins in voting for the Jack Adams Award.
General manager Chuck Fletcher hired Vigneault following the 2018-19 season. Several of his acquisitions, including Kevin Hayes, Derick Brassard, and Keith Yandle, played for Vigneault prior to coming to Philadelphia. Fletcher made the decision to retain his head coach after a disappointing season in 2020-21 despite reported dissatisfaction among the players. He focused on reconstructing the roster, which indicated a challenge to Vigneault to succeed given a more complete team.
“Coaches have to walk a line between being demanding and being hard and being fair. And I know the players last year in Philadelphia felt the Flyers coaches did not adequately walk that line. And I know that they asked and made it very clear in some of their exit meetings that they thought some things had to change.”–Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts
The Flyers will also let assistant coach Michel Therrien go. Therrien coached the Flyers power play for the entirety of Vigneault’s tenure. The unit finished 14th in the NHL in 2019-20 but slipped to 18th in 2020-21. They currently sit 30th this season, and their struggles have been a major contributor to Philadelphia’s lackluster offense that has scored just 28 goals in their last 17 games.
Mike Yeo will serve as the interim head coach. He also coached on Vigneault’s staff for the entirety of his tenure. He brings 530 games of head coaching experience in parts of eight seasons with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The Flyers penalty kill, coached by Yeo, has improved from 30th in the NHL last season to 13th this season. Fletcher hired and fired Yeo during his tenure in Minnesota.
Rumors have swirled in recent weeks about the possibility of Rick Tocchet replacing Vigneault as Philadelphia’s head coach. Tocchet played parts of 11 seasons with the Flyers in two stints from 1984-1992 and 2000-02. He has also coached 438 NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes.
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Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.