By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Coaching in the NHL is not easy. Coaching the Philadelphia Flyers is extremely challenging. With both the fans and the organization demanding the absolute best, needless to say it’s not everyday they have found someone who can lead this team. However, There have been a few gems along the way who have been responsible for the biggest highlights in team history. This is the Top 5 Flyers coaches of all time.
Number 5- Ken Hitchcock
After being fired by the Stars midway through the 2001-02 season, The Flyers were quick to pick him up in the offseason after firing coach Bill Barber. While the record itself didn’t change much, Hitch was able to discipline the team far better than Barber could. The following season, the Flyers made it all the way to the conference finals before losing to the Lightning in seven games. Hitchcock would stick around until the disaster start to the 2006-07 season where the Flyers started 1-6-1 before cleaning house within the organization.
Number 4- Peter Laviolette
Brought in during early December 2009, Laviolette managed to drag the Flyers into the playoffs thanks to a shootout victory over the Rangers in game 82. The Flyers would go on a magical run during the 2010 playoffs, making a comeback from a 3-0 series deficit versus the Bruins then failing in the Cup Final against the Blackhawks in six games. Lavy would lose in the Conference Semifinals the following two seasons before an 0-3 start to the 2013-14 season ended his Flyers career early. At the time of writing this, Laviolette is the third longest tenured coach in Flyers history, though Dave Hakstol is quickly approaching his 272 games coached.
Number 3- Pat Quinn
Quinn took the reigns of the Flyers during the 1979-80 NHL season after being an assistant coach under Fred Shero since 1977. He immediately made a splash by leading the team to a 35-game unbeaten streak. That season the Flyers would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the beginning of the Islanders destiny teams. He won the Jack Adams Award that season, but his performances slowly declined over the next two seasons before getting canned at the end of the 1981-82 season.
Number 2- Mike Keenan
Keenan was brought in to coach a Flyers who were poised to rekindle their former glory from ten years previous. Keenen was a college coach at the University of Toronto, who he lead to a CIAU title the season before. Keenan spent just short of four years with the franchise, playing successful hockey in the regular season, even leading them to two Stanley Cup Final appearances, losing to the Oilers both times. Even with all his success, Keenan was let go due to failing to maintain a working relationship with his players. Keenan is still the second winningest coach in Flyers history with 190 victories in 320 games.
Number 1- Fred Shero
Brought in on a “gut feeling” by then-GM Keith Allen, Shero didn’t get off to the best start in his first few years. Things would change during the 1973-74 season however, as Shero led the team to a 50-16-12 record. The Flyers would breeze through the playoffs before winning the Stanley Cup in six games against the Bruins. He would mirror his success the following season, winning the Cup again in almost identical fashion. They would appear in the Finals for the third straight year after their third straight 50-win season, but got swept by the Canadiens. At the end of the 1977 season, Shero resigned as head coach of the Flyers. He left with the most games coached in Flyers history (554), most victories (308), most playoff games coached (83), and playoff wins (48).
Terry Murray– Most Famous for assembling the “Legion of Doom” line, Murray led the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1997. Even with the Final appearance, he was fired that summer after the organization was unhappy with his handling of the goalies. He is the ninth longest tenured, and eighth winningest coach in Flyers history.
photo credit: SI.com