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Flyers name Alain Vigneault head coach

It only took a week for Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher to make up his mind about a new head coach, mainly because a candidate with the qualities he was looking for was easy to find.

After going with three coaches who had little to no prior NHL head-coaching experience, the Flyers went in a different direction on Monday. Fletcher wanted someone with proven experience and also had demonstrated an ability to help develop young players.

So hiring Alain Vigneault on a multi-year deal on Monday seemed like the natural thing to do, not only because Vigneault had more than a thousand NHL games and two trips to the Stanley Cup Final on his resume, but because he had done such a good job turning around a downtrodden franchise like the Vancouver Canucks by emphasizing the progress of players in their early 20s.

Vigneault takes over as the 21st head coach in Flyers history with a clear mandate: Get this team back into serious contention while making it a perennial threat to win a championship.

"Alain is always someone I’ve admired and respected,” Fletcher said during a media conference call late Monday afternoon.

“I’ve watched the job he’s done over the years throughout his career, but particularly in Vancouver. . .he’s always been what I consider to be a top coach in the NHL.”

Someone pointed out that Vigneault seemed to come into disfavor with the New York Rangers shortly after he took them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 –- the perception being that he was not in accord with the Blueshirts’ youth movement.

Fletcher countered that by saying Vigneault was the main reason why the Canucks made it all the way to Game 7 of the ’11 Cup Final before succumbing to the Boston Bruins.

“He has a tremendous record of developing players,”’ Fletcher pointed out. “Holding his players accountable, instilling proper habits in his players.

“I think his track record speaks for itself. He’s had success at the junior level, in the minor leagues and the NHL. You can’t have success at all those levels unless you’re good at developing players. He gets his players to play hard and buy in.”

The Flyers haven’t been to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2012. Last week, Fletcher had mentioned he wants to change the “mindset”’ of this team. Is Vigneault capable of doing that?

“He’s done it [before] repeatedly,”’ Fletcher said.

On the flip side, Vigneault probably had some other offers out there but likes what he sees with the Flyers’ roster.

“He likes our group and thinks there’s a lot of upside,” Fletcher said. “We would like to upgrade in a couple areas if we can.

“It is an honor to be selected as the next head coach of the Flyers,” Vigneault said. “The history they have established and the passionate fan base has made this a first-class franchise. I am excited to work with Chuck, the talented group of players, and the prospects coming up through the system in order to return Philadelphia to the top of the NHL landscape.”

Vigneault, who has coached 139 Stanley Cup playoff games, most recently coached the Rangers, where he coached five seasons (2013-2018). He also spent seven seasons as the head coach of the Canucks (2006-13) and three-plus seasons at the helm of the Canadiens.

He also will serve as the head coach for Team Canada at next month’s IIHF World Championships in Slovakia.

In Vigneault’s 15 full seasons as a head coach, eight of his teams have finished with 100 points or better.

His teams have won seven division championships and have made the playoffs 11 times, advancing past the first round on eight of those occasions, and reaching the Stanley Cup Final twice.

Following his first season in Vancouver in 2006-07, Vigneault won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL Coach of the Year.

He has been a finalist for the award on three other occasions. His career regular season record as an NHL head coach is 648-435-35-98.

The Flyers have scheduled a press conference on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to formally introduce Vigneault.

Gordon could return to Lehigh Valley

According to Fletcher, interim head coach Scott Gordon can return to his old job with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms if he choses to do so.

Gordon did an admirable job as an interim. After he took over for ex-coach Dave Hakstol, Gordon coached the team to a record of 25-22-4.

“He did a good job for the Flyers," Fletcher said. “He came in under tough circumstances, I thought he did a very good job with our team.

“I spoke to him this morning and he was disappointed. He wanted to be the head coach. I advised him to take some time, we can talk again over the coming weeks. The Lehigh Valley job is his if he wants it."

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