John Stevens, head coach, Philadelphia Flyers. Genius.
The NHL has seen their share of intellectual coaches over the years but none more cerebral than Philadelphia Flyers mastermind, John Stevens. Stevens, a long time AHL player and head coach of the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Philadelphia Flyers minor league affiliate, is recognized around the league for his heightened intellect and mastery of the X's and O's of the game. Stevens won a Calder Cup championship with the Philadelphia Phantoms as a player in 1997, and then again as head coach in 2005.
When Stevens was given the reigns to coach the Flyers in 2006, many scoffed at the move, saying, who is John Stevens and where did he come from? Stevens has put those questions to rest and now has the Philadelphia Flyers playing at the top of their game in the NHL's Atlantic Division.
Stevens is a master at understanding his personnel not just from a technical or skill standpoint but, more importantly, from a psychological perspective. He pushes all the right buttons: From sitting guys for stretches who are dogging it, to limiting their ice time within a game when they lack energy and focus, or pulling the goalie at the end of a period to change the momentum of a game. Stevens always speaking highly of his players no matter what the situation entails publicly as it relates to the collectiveness of the team and winning. Stevens is about the team and only the team.
Stevens is a genius and one of the brightest young minds in the game today. His calm demeanor and soft spoken articulation allows you to relax and believe in his methods with total confidence that he is in charge and everything will be okay. I never did get that feeling from the prior coaches in Philly, but Stevens exudes calm, control, and confidence, and his players respond to his mantra.
Yes, there are times the Flyers look sluggish; yes, there are times they look unfocused, but rarely will you see Stevens out of alignment. He is the the right coach at the right time for this organization and players, and he is the mastermind from a tactical, cerebral, and psychological perspective.
I believe Philadelphia is very fortunate to have John Stevens, and make no mistake—the rest of the NHL knows who John Stevens is now.
A genius is in our midst.