Ranking the 5 Greatest Coaches in Philadelphia Flyers History

Dan FremuthContributor IIIDecember 18, 2013

Ranking the 5 Greatest Coaches in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Eighteen different men have patrolled behind the bench as head coaches in the 46-year history of the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Some have enjoyed tremendous success. Others have barely made it to the end of a single season.

    Here's a look at the former and the five greatest coaches in the history of the Orange and Black.

     

5. Ken Hitchcock (2002-06)

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    Bench boss of the Flyers for just over three seasons, Ken Hitchcock compiled 131 victories during his 254-game stint in Philadelphia.

    Fifth on Philly's all-time list for wins by a head coach, Hitchcock accumulated three straight seasons with at least 40 victories during the 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 campaigns as the Flyers qualified for the postseason during each of those seasons.

    Sixth on Philadelphia's all-time list for postseason victories by a head coach, Hitchcock produced a 19-18 playoff record with the Orange and Black while guiding the franchise to the Eastern Conference Semifinal in his first campaign and the Conference Final in his second.

    Even though he was ousted just eight games into the team's fateful 2006-07 season, Hitchcock remains one of the most successful bench bosses the Flyers have seen.

4. Peter Laviolette (2009-13)

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    Even though he was relieved of his coaching duties just three games into the current season, Peter Laviolette still ranks third on Philadelphia's all-time list for wins by a head coach.

    In a little over three seasons at the helm of the Orange and Black, Laviolette compiled 145 victories in a span of just 272 games.

    A coach that required his teams to play with "jam," Laviolette found instant success in Philadelphia, guiding the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in June 2010 after assuming the reigns just six months earlier. The native of Franklin, Mass., then guided the Flyers to back-to-back 47-win seasons and back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Semifinal during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns.

    All told, Laviolette recorded 23 playoff victories, fourth most in franchise history, to go along with a .511 postseason winning percentage.

3. Pat Quinn (1979-82)

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    Fourth on Philadelphia's all-time list for wins by a head coach, Pat Quinn produced 141 victories during his 262-game tenure behind the bench of the Flyers.

    Even though he managed four fewer triumphs overall than Peter Laviolette, Quinn did so while compiling the fourth-best winning percentage (.630) in franchise history.

    A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Quinn took over the reigns of the Orange and Black in the midst of the 1978-79 season and guided the team to the second round of the playoffs after just five months on the job.

    In his first full season at the helm, Quinn's Flyers went on a record breaking 35-game unbeaten streak that culminated in the trip to the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, where Philly was outlasted by the upstart New York Islanders. Quinn produced a 41-win season the year after, guiding the franchise back to the second round of the postseason.

    His tenure with the club ended late in the 1981-82 season.

2. Mike Keenan (1984-88)

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    Head coach of the Flyers for four full seasons from 1984 to 1988, Mike Keenan accumulated the second-most wins by a coach in team history (190) to go along with the second-highest winning percentage (.638) in franchise history.

    In his first two seasons at the helm, Keenan produced back-to-back 53-win campaigns and guided the Orange and Black to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985. After another stellar regular season (46 triumphs during the 1986-87 campaign), the Bowmanville, Ontario, native got the team back to the Final in 1987, where the Flyers suffered a heartbreaking seven-game defeat at the hands of the juggernaut that was the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.

    In his final season as bench boss in Philly, Keenan produced another 38 wins and a fourth straight trip to the postseason.

    The Flyers never suffered a losing season under Keenan, and he's one of just two coaches in franchise history to guide the team to multiple Stanley Cup Final appearances. For that, he's a lock as one of the club's all-time greatest coaches.

1. Fred Shero (1971-78)

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    There's really no debate when it comes to the man who belongs at the top of this list.

    Fred Shero patrolled the Philadelphia bench from 1971 to 1978 and is the franchise's all-time leader in games coached (554), wins (308), regular-season winning percentage (.642), postseason games (83) and playoff wins (48). Most importantly, he's also the only head coach in Flyers history to claim hockey's ultimate prize, capturing the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons in 1974 and 1975.

    In seven seasons at the helm, Shero suffered only one losing campaign (his first in 1971-72) and followed that with five straight seasons with at least 40 victories from 1973 to 1978.

    His most successful run came in a three-year window from 1973 to 1976 where the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native accumulated an astounding 152 wins, a stretch began with Shero claiming the very first Jack Adams award as the league's top coach.

    Appropriately, "The Fog" was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this year.