Philadelphia Flyers: Power-Ranking Each of the Coaches in Flyers History
Regarded as a genius early in his Philadelphia tenure after coming on in December 2009 to replace John Stevens' sinking ship, and earning the team's first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since the Legion of Doom days, question marks are now forming around the 2006 Stanley Cup Championship coach.
Laviolette's coaching style and personnel decisions have come under fire, ever since the Orange and Black started to fall apart at the seams late last season..
Given all of the changes in the offseason, many fans didn't know what to expect from this year's Flyers.
But glimpses of their potential have many fans clamoring for Laviolette to bring some consistency to this young team.
Laviolette's future as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers will be determined in the coming months, and by the playoffs more than the regular season.
As Flyers fans, we've come to expect our team to make the playoffs, and failing to do so would be automatic grounds for dismissal in the city's eyes.
Our lofty expectations are rooted in a long history of successful coaches and teams since 1967, when Philly joined the NHL.
Where, then, does Peter Laviolette rank among the rest of the coaches in this proud, historic franchise?
Let's count them down, shall we?
17. Vic Stasiuk
Seen coaching the California Golden Seals in the video, Vic Stasiuk won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Detroit Red Wings before retiring to become a coach.
Taking over the reigns as Flyers head coach in 1969, Stasiuk only managed the Flyers to 131 points in 154 regular season games from 1969-1971.
Stasiuk's modest tenure and winless playoff record are enough to justify ranking him 17th of 17 on the Flyers' all-time list.
16. Craig Ramsey
Craig Ramsay's time as Flyers head coach was short, but few fans will ever forget the circumstances.
Taking over for the cancer-embattled Roger Neilson late in the 2000 season, Ramsay guided the Flyers to an Atlantic Division crown and the Eastern Conference Finals, where they blew a 3-1 series lead and were defeated by the New Jersey Devils.
Ramsay was relieved of his duties after 28 games in 2000-01, posting a 12-12-4 mark before his dismissal—a sign that the monumental Eastern Conference Finals collapse was the beginning of a trend.
15. Terry Simpson
Terry Simpson headed the Flyers' bench for the 1993-94 season.
The Flyers' one season under Simpson was forgettable—they posted only 80 points and finished sixth in the Atlantic Division, missing the playoffs.
14. Bill Dineen
Bill Dineen was the oldest rookie head coach in NHL history when he took over the Flyers in 1991-92, at the age of 59.
Known best for coaching his own son, Kevin, Dineen's tenure in Philly was the definition of mediocrity, posting 140 points in 140 games.
Missing the playoffs in both his seasons behind the bench, Dineen was let go following the 1992-93 season.
13. Bob McCammon
In two stints as Flyers head coach, McCammon's teams put up 269 points over 218 regular season games.
McCammon's first shot at coaching the big club was a dubious task, replacing two-time Stanley Cup champion and Philadelphia legend Fred Shero.
Posting a .550% points-percentage through the first 50 games of the 1978-79 season, McCammon was not allowed the opportunity to finish out his first season.
However, he was re-hired to replace his own replacement (Pat Quinn) in 1981-1982, as both head coach and general manager. McCammon recorded quite a bit more success in his second go-around, making the playoffs three straight seasons.
However, a lack of playoff success—the Flyers were eliminated in three straight division semifinals—led to McCammon's dismissal following the 1984 campaign.
12. Wayne Cashman
After the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals sweep at the hands of the underdog Detroit Red Wings, Wayne Cashman was brought on to replace Terry Murray.
Cashman was a respected hockey man, winning Stanley Cups as a player with the Boston Bruins in 1970 and 1972, and captaining Boston from 1978-83.
But his time as a head coach was short-lived, with a 32-20-9 record over the first 61 games of the season, before giving way to Roger Neilson and being demoted to assistant coach for the remainder of his tenure.
11. Bill Barber
The franchise's leading goal-scorer ("Mr. 420") assumed the role of head coach following Craig Ramsay's dismissal in 2000-01.
Despite ranking second and first in the division following his two regular seasons, and a Jack Adams trophy in 2001 as Flyers coach, Barber's teams were an underwhelming 3-8 in two first-round playoff exits, leading to his removal following the 2001-02 season.
Barber won two Stanley Cups as a player and a Calder Cup in 1997-98 as head coach of the Philadelphia Phantoms, but was never able to roll his successes over into head-coaching at the highest level.
10. Keith Allen
"Keith the Thief" has been around since the inception of Flyers hockey, serving as the team's very first head coach.
Allen currently serves as the Flyers's executive vice president, and following his replacement by Vic Stasiuk as head coach in 1969, Allen became the Flyers' general manager, building the Stanley Cup-champion Broad Street Bullies of the mid-1970s.
Allen's Flyers won the expansion division in their first season, and can be credited with building a strong following in the City of Brotherly Love—a relationship which has since become almost mythological.
While Allen's sub-.500 points-percentage pales in comparison to many who followed him, his and Ed Snider's vision for hockey in Philadelphia can be credited for the Flyers' sustained success over the past four decades.
9. John Stevens
After winning the AHL's Calder Cup as head coach of the Philadelphia Phantoms during the NHL lockout, John Stevens was promoted to assistant coach for the Flyers in 2005, under head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Following a first round elimination by the Buffalo Sabres, and an abysmal 1-6-1 beginning to the 2006-07 season, Hitch was dismissed as coach, and Stevens made his replacement.
Stevens was supposedly more adept at handling and teaching the young core that Hitchcock was "out of touch with", having coached many of the young Flyers during their tenures as Phantoms.
Stevens' Flyers amassed only 53 points over the final 74 games of his inaugural season, missing the playoffs for the first time since the five-year stretch of 1989-90 to 1993-94.
Philly's futility was short-lived this time, as Stevens' team came back with a vengeance in 2007-08, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Following a disappointing first round exit the following year, again at the hands of the Penguins, and starting 13-11-1 in 2009, Stevens was painted as too nice and to close to his players to lead them effectively.
He was replaced by Peter Laviolette in December 2009.
8. Paul Holmgren
The Flyers' front office intimidator served as head coach during one of their more futile periods, from 1988-89 through the first 24 games of 1991-92.
Holmgren reached the Conference Finals in his first year at the helm, but the Flyers missed the playoffs in his following two seasons and never finished above fourth in the standings.
Holmgren's standing on this list would be somewhere in the teens on merit alone. But as current general manager and all-around badass, his fate is greatly improved.
I mean, look at the guy—who wouldn't want this guy standing behind the bench and staring down officials?
7. Roger Neilson
The late Roger Neilson was an innovator—plain and simple.
While he'll be forever remembered for popularizing the rally towel and chucking sticks at officials, Neilson's teams had quite a bit of on-ice success as well.
Neilson lead the Flyers for three seasons, finishing no worse than second in the Atlantic Division each year, before cancer, his friendship with Eric Lindros, and the team's desire to move in another direction led to his replacement by Craig Ramsay.
Nevertheless, Neilson is one of the most respected coaches in the history of the game.
He qualified for the playoffs in 11 of his 16 seasons as a head coach, won the President's Trophy in 1992 with the New York Rangers, led the Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982, and is recognized as one of the innovators of film study in game preparation.
6. Ken Hitchcock
In three full seasons as the Flyers head coach, 'Hitch' never finished below second place, and he reached the playoffs each year, including an inspired run to the Conference Finals in 2004.
Following the lockout, the Flyers went on a geriatric spending spree, acquiring several over-the-hill former stars to fill out an increasingly younger roster.
After a first round playoff exit in 2005-06, Hitchcock's poorly assembled Flyers got off to a 1-6-1 start to the 2006-07 season, leading to his dismissal.
The burly old coach's record was that of an "over-the-top piece," a guy a team would bring in to lead a veteran group in their pursuit of a championship.
With the youth movement in full-swing, Uncle Johnny Stevens was hired to coddle the future of Sea Isle City's Party Crew.
But Hitchcock's standing as a great coach was cemented by a Stanley Cup Championship with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99, then a near-repeat the following season, losing in the Cup Finals in 2000.
Still, Hitch led Roenick, LeClair and the Flyers of my youth in their version of Achilles' last stand prior to the lockout.
And they nearly pulled off the unthinkable, before being eliminated in Game 7 of the ECF by the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
5. Terry Murray
Dubbed the "cardboard cutout" for his statuesque demeanor behind the bench, Murray served three seasons as head coach in Philadelphia, taking the Flyers to three straight playoff appearances, two Atlantic Division titles (1994-95, 1995-96), and a 1997 Eastern Conference Championship and Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Murray compiled 118 wins and 266 regular season points as Flyers head coach. But his shuffling of goalies Ron Hextall and Garth Snow during the 1997 finals, and the subsequent choke at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, led to his firing after the 1997 season.
While his Legion of Doom Flyers never reached the mountaintop, Murray oversaw the three most successful consecutive seasons in recent Flyers history.
He deserves to be credited as one of the best coaches the franchise has hired.
Murray has since served in the organization as a pro scout and assistant coach. He currently resides behind the bench in "Philadelphia West," as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings along with assistant coach John Stevens, VP and assistant GM Ron Hextall and former Flyers first-round draft picks Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards.
4. Peter Laviolette
Lavy took over in December 2009, when John Stevens was deemed too tolerant of his immature team's antics and lack of focus.
The Flyers were dwelling in the Atlantic Division basement when he arrived. Laviolette implemented a more fast-paced attacking fore-check, and propelled his team all the way to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
Following their improbable run, which included Brian Boucher winning a shootout on the last day of the season to qualify for the playoffs, and overcoming a 3-0 semifinal series deficit, Laviolette's Flyers underachieved in the second half of 2010-11, leading to a postseason collapse and a roster overhaul.
Laviolette has his team in contention once more, despite many new faces, and the vote of confidence from management lead many to believe Lavy will be around a while, bringing about a new era of player accountability in Philadelphia.
Hopefully, Laviolette climbs his way further up the list before his tenure is complete.
3. Pat Quinn
Pat Quinn served as Flyers coach for parts of four seasons from 1978-79 through 1981-82.
Quinn won the Jack Adams award as the league's best coach in 1980, his first full year with the team, and a season in which the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals and amassed a record 35-game unbeaten streak.
Quinn reached the playoffs in three straight seasons before starting 1981-82 with a 34-29-9 record, leading to his replacement by Bob McCammon.
2. Mike Keenan
Iron Mike led Philly from the 1984-85 season through 1987-88, never once missing the playoffs, and making two Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 1985 and 1987.
The Flyers finished in first place each of Keenan's first three years in the city, and his 408 regular season points rank second in franchise history.
Keenan was the 1985 Jack Adams winner, and his 53-victory mark, reached in both 1985 and 1986, is a franchise record.
Following Keenan's fourth season, in which the Flyers finished in third place and were eliminated from the playoffs in the division semifinals, Keenan was replaced by Paul Holmgren, who eventually oversaw the beginning of the franchise's longest playoff drought.
1. Fred Shero
"The Fog" is indisputably the Flyers' greatest coach, serving from 1971 through 1978.
Shero's Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975 and barely missed a three-peat, losing the 1976 Finals to the Montreal Canadiens—in large part from the absence of injured goaltender Bernie Parent.
Shero's seven seasons, 308 victories, 711 points and .642 points-percentage are all franchise records.
The Broad Street Bullies reached the playoffs in all but his first season behind the bench, posting an overall 48-35 playoff record.
Shero won the Jack Adams award in 1974, and his Flyers never finished below second place after fifth-place ending to his rookie season, 1971-72.
Shero's quote to his team before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals is still quoted today, and has proven to be one of the most truthful statements in the history of Philadelphia sports.
"Win today and we walk together forever."
Thirty-seven years later, a bunch of toothless, wild-eyed Canadian farm boys are still the most beloved figures in Philly's deeply-rooted sports community.
Shero's Bullies were the closest this city has ever come to a dynasty, and time has not dulled our brotherly love for that team and its coach.