Flyers fire coach Hakstol, Gordon is interim replacement
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
The Philadelphia Flyers have fired coach Dave Hakstol after losing four in a row and 11 of their last 14 games and named Scott Gordon as the interim replacement.
General manager Chuck Fletcher announced the move Monday, less than two weeks since taking over for the fired Ron Hextall.
"After meeting this morning with Dave Hakstol and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to relieve him of his duties as head coach," Fletcher said. "As I continue to assess the team, I feel that this is the best course of action for our group moving forward."
The last-place Flyers have lost five of six and are 12-15-4. Philadelphia went 1-3-1 on the road trip Fletcher said he'd use to evaluate Hakstol, the rest of the coaching staff and the team at-large.
Hired by Hextall from the University of North Dakota in 2015, Hakstol took the Flyers to the playoffs twice in his three full seasons, but they lost in six games in the first round each time. His teams were plagued by inconsistency in the form of long winning and losing streaks, and that ultimately cost him his job in his fourth season.
It was not immediately clear when the Flyers would hire a full-time coach. Three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville, who was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks last month, has been linked to Philadelphia because of a connection with Fletcher.
Gordon is an NHL head coach for the second time after parts of three seasons with the New York Islanders. He has spent the past three-plus seasons as coach of the American Hockey League's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Philadelphia's top affiliate.
"He's got some creative ways of thinking the game," said defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who played for Gordon with the Islanders. "We had a really young team in New York when I was there - transitioning from an older team to a younger team. It was kind of a tough situation for him. He was trying to bring in new ideas with speed and some of his philosophies. I really liked Scott as a coach. He's a good man, he's got good systems and I think he'll do a good job for us."
Hakstol's final game was a 5-1 loss at Vancouver on Saturday night. The 50-year-old coach from Warburg, Alberta, said he felt his players battled all the way through the blowout loss. He added it's "not good enough, obviously, because the end result is what matters."
The end results for the Flyers weren't enough for a franchise that hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1975 and was ready to try to contend after several years of retooling.
"It's been four years and you build relationships," captain Claude Giroux said. "I think for one guy to kind of pay the price for what's going on, it's not fair, but it's the business side of it. It's a tough day."
Hextall's inability to speed up the course of those efforts was among the reasons he was unexpectedly dismissed Nov. 26. Hakstol at the time got a reprieve while team president Paul Holmgren searched for a GM who would get to make the call.
Long before Fletcher got the job, the Flyers under Hakstol in 2016-17 became the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs after having a 10-game winning streak and last season the first to make the playoffs after a 10-game losing streak.
Philadelphia went 134-101-42 under Hakstol, who coached the third-most games in franchise history behind Fred Shero and Mike Keenan.
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