The Flyers ended their coaching search fairly quickly earlier this week hiring former Habs, Canucks, and Rangers coach Alain Vigneault as their new bench boss. AV takes over for Interim Coach Scott Gordon who took over for Dave Hakstol in December 2018.
Vigneault enters with a solid resume including a Jack Adams Award and two appearances in the Cup Finals (Vancouver 2011 and NYR 2014).
His career .588 points percentage would be 94 points per season.
What makes AV hard to judge as a coach is that his Canucks and Rangers tenures were both boosted by having Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist in their primes. This isn’t a knock on AV per se, those same teams had backup goalies in Cory Schneider (VAN) and Cam Talbot (NYR) and Antti Raanta (NYR) who also played their tenures under AV into starting jobs elsewhere.
Given Carter Hart is a highly touted prospect, having a stable goalie does play into AV’s best success. Given Cam Talbot’s relationship with both AV and Carter Hart, it seems more than likely he’s the other goalie with Hart next season.
Like many coaches, he too has a tendency to over rely on certain gritty types over skilled players. Most notably, his late Rangers tenure was marred by repeatedly scratching Pavel Buchnevich for Tanner Glass. This could be a cause for Flyers fans to be reminded of Dave Hakstol repeatedly scratching Konecny for Weal or Sanheim for MacDonald.
That said – this is where GM Chuck Fletcher needs to step in. Given the Flyers roster makeup and cap situation, there’s no reason for cheap veterans to be used as roster filler come October. Fletcher can force AV into playing an optimal roster by doing a few simple moves and keeping MacDonald away from the team next season.
When AV’s teams were on, they did drive possession and Mike Gillis made sure that the successful Canuck teams didn’t have the players that caused bad roster moves. For AV to succeed, Chuck Fletcher needs to follow that model and only give skilled players to AV.