Scott Gordon Expected to Be Flyers Interim Coach for Remainder of Season
For 24 hours, it was the anticipated move that no one was really sure would happen. When the Flyers took the ice for practice shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Monday, there was one person noticeably missing.
A few minutes later, the decision had become official. Dave Hakstol was no longer the coach of the Flyers.
In his media availability after the move, GM Chuck Fletcher also announced that Scott Gordon would be the interim head coach, and that his role could last through the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
"When I took this job, my intention was certainly to take some time and try to get to know the team and to get to know Dave," Fletcher said. "Going on the road last week and having all that time to spend with him and watch the team, I came away tremendously impressed with Dave as a human being, but to my eyes there was a disconnect between what he was preaching and how the players were playing. As the leader of the team, that responsibility falls on him and I felt that at this point we needed a new voice."
Fletcher pointed to last Wednesday's late-game collapse in Calgary as a point where there were indications that a new voice was needed. The Flyers led that game, 5-3, with under two minutes to play before allowing two goals to tie the game and the game-winner just 35 seconds into overtime.
"Frankly, the Calgary game to me represented everything that I've come to know about this team and what we need to do to improve upon it," Fletcher said. "We're playing hard, competing, two-goal lead, but the chances we continue to take, our puck management, our game management, the turnovers we committed. Even then, we killed off four penalties in the third period which is tremendous resiliency.
"I don't question the heart of this team at all. We just found a way to shoot ourselves in the foot and we made it really hard on ourselves. Give Calgary credit, they're beating everybody right now. They're a good hockey team. But we've got to close that game out and that's mindset, that's attitude and the coaches aren't telling them to go out and turn pucks over. To me, we need a new voice."
Now to Gordon, who takes over the job for now, and potentially the remainder of the season, as the Flyers look for the next head coach. Gordon's track record with the Phantoms has been excellent. He's taken the Flyers AHL affiliate from a team that regularly missed the playoffs to a team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season. During his time as head coach with the Phantoms, several current Flyers have passed through the system as well.
"Scott is the interim head coach. I've been very up front with him. I'm going to begin a process to identify what I think the qualities of the next head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers needs," Fletcher said. "I'm not sure how long that will take. At this point, everybody's a candidate going forward."
It is that track record that stood out to Fletcher. In addition, the fact that Gordon has been with the organization for several years and knows several of the players on the personal level that a head coach does, gives him the upper hand in the first part of the audition process.
"What I like about Scott is that he has a long track record of success in coaching, particular at the AHL level. People I respect rave about his character, his preparation, his intellect," Fletcher said. "The fact that he's been in the organization will allow him to get up to speed quicker than bringing in somebody from the outside. My expectation is Scott will be the coach for the rest of the year."
Gordon's first game as head coach of the Flyers will come on Tuesday night and it will be interesting to see how he puts his stamp on the team from the beginning with line combinations and such. It is the start of a new beginning for the Flyers and for now, this is the regime that will either turn their season around or finish out an already wild year in franchise history.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.