May 28, 2023

Flyers fire head coach Alain Vigneault


Photo by Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

The Alain Vigneault era has ended here in Philadelphia.

A day after the Flyers’ eighth straight loss, the head coach was fired Monday, along with assistant coach Michel Therrien.

Assistant coach Mike Yeo is the interim head coach.

Vigneault’s time in Philadelphia went surprisingly south very quick. In 2019-20, his first season with the Flyers, Vigneault finished as the runner-up for the Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year). When the season resumed after the COVID-19 pause, the Flyers finished one win away of the Eastern Conference Finals. But in the following two seasons, the Flyers had gone a combined 33-33-12. They missed the playoffs last season, allowing a league-high 3.52 goals per game. This season, mired in an 0-6-2 slide, the Flyers are 8-10-4 overall.

“It changes quickly — one way or the other,” Vigneault said Saturday. “I’m confident that it’s going to change positively. And it has to because in this business — a success-, win-oriented business — you’ve got to win. Otherwise, stuff happens. We all know that.”

For Vigneault, it happened two days later. Following three days between games, the Flyers had a horrid 7-1 beating to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.

In their eight-game losing streak, the Flyers have been outscored 36-13. Prior to this season, the Flyers had not yet dropped more than four games in a row under Vigneault, making this current skid perplexing but damaging.

“We are looking for solutions to our situation,” Vigneault said after Sunday’s loss. “We all have a job to do — we’ve got to get to work and all do our part. The leader of this group, the guy that’s got both his hands on the steering is me. I’ve got to find a way to get this group to play better. We’re in a bad skid right now and we need to end this.”

Six days ago, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher didn’t like the thought of Vigneault not being the guy for the Flyers. But GMs rarely show doubt publicly about their head coach. And as Vigneault said, things can turn fast in this game.

Fletcher had an aggressive offseason revamping the Flyers’ roster following the disappointment of 2020-21. He brought in seven new faces, most notably top-pair defenseman Ryan Ellis. But the Flyers have been hit hard by injuries. Last season went completely wrong because of the gaping hole on their top defensive pair from Matt Niskanen’s retirement. This season, they’ve had the all-situation Ellis for only four games as he’s been dealing with a lower-body injury.

“We are who we are right now,” Fletcher said last Tuesday. “We’ve got to get better — we recognize that, nobody recognizes it more than we do. The coaches were here all day yesterday looking at the power play, looking at how we can have the puck more often, our entries, our forecheck. We’re looking at everything every day — our line combinations, practice, load management, everything. We’re looking at everything every day.

“But I saw the energy in the group today and that’s what still gives me hope. Doing this 30 years, you can see when players are frustrated and lack confidence and you can see when players don’t believe. There’s a big difference. We still believe, we’ve got a lot of work to do and that’s where our mindset is at.”

The Flyers entered Monday 28th in goals per game (2.32) and 30th in power play percentage (13.4).

Vigneault, who led the Flyers to their first playoff series win since 2012, finished 74-54-19 in parts of three seasons in Philadelphia.

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