Why Dave Hakstol’s Flyers future hinges on the success of David Quinn in New York

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By now, everyone has heard that the New York Rangers have hired former Boston University head coach David Quinn to replace Alain Vigneault behind the bench. This seems to be a trend that has potential to catch on across the entire NHL: hiring successful college coaches as head coaches in the NHL.

The Flyers are no strangers to said “trend,” hiring Dave Hakstol from North Dakota just three short, or long if you’re not a fan, years ago. After the Craig Berube experiment, Dave Hakstol came in on a five year deal worth 2 million per year. He was being paid handsomely compared to many other coaches at the time. Fast forward to 2018, and you have David Quinn taking the helm for the Rags, making 2.4 million for each of the next five years, a contract very similar to Hakstol’s.

Similar contracts, different situation, but same expectations? David Quinn has his work cut out for him, joining the Rangers at a time where they have no identity, and are selling off assets quicker than the Bon-Ton. Rick Nash, JT Miller, even Ryan McDonagh are gone. More moves are sure to come during the offseason, with names like Mats Zuccarello and potentially Chris Kreider being made available via trade.

So then what does this have to do with the Flyers? It’s quite simple really. You have two coaches, making the jump to the NHL and Hakstol faced an immense amount of pressure, and I’m sure New York won’t let up on the criticism of David Quinn either. These two coaches could be linked for years to come, as long as they both stay put.

If David Quinn can outperform Dave Hakstol next season, you can all but put your lawn chairs on route 95 and wave goodbye to him after the last game of the season, because there is no reason that David Quinn should make the Rangers better than the Flyers next year, or even in the last year of Dave Hakstol’s contract.

It’s poker night and the last game comes down to Dave Hakstol and David Quinn. Before showing their hands, Hakstol has trip kings, and Quinn has ace high.

Quinn wasn’t dealt a great hand, given the state of the Rag’s roster. Even more reason to be concerned for Dave Hakstol. The lower the stakes for Quinn, the more Hakstol has to lose. Yes, it is unlikely that the Rangers outperform the Flyers next season, but how many people guessed the Las Vegas Golden Knights would be in the Stanley Cup Finals? Exactly, anything can happen.

With the Flyers set to welcome another wave of rookies, it could be a tumultuous season for the Flyers once again. Obviously, fans will know more after the dust settles on a potentially interesting offseason for the club, but as of right now, top to bottom, the Flyers have the better roster. Two thirds of the Rangers blue line are people that nobody would even recognize on the street. Their forwards are second and third liners on decent teams. The Flyers have a bon a fide first line that is as dangerous as they come. Their second line is pretty solid with the emergence of Nolan Patrick centering a combination of Voracek, Simmonds, Lindblom, and even Konecny at times.

There’s no question that the amount of talent on the Flyers way outweighs the amount of talent on the Rangers roster. With that amount of talent, and potential talent coming up through the pipeline, Dave Hakstol has no excuse to finish worse than the Rangers and David Quinn. It would be absolutely unacceptable, and, quite frankly, shocking.

Crazier things have happened, and teams that have no business being in the postseason have made it, and endured incredible runs. Ask Michael Leighton and the 2010 Flyers. David Quinn could end up having a better season than Dave Hakstol next year. If that happens, don’t expect Hak to be around to see Quinn’s second season with the Rags. Simply put, a first year coach with a pretty mediocre team has no business outperforming a fourth year coach with studs like Giroux, Couturier, and Provorov on the roster.

This year won’t just be a telling year for the players on the Flyers roster. It will be somewhat of a judgement day for Dave Hakstol. The odds aren’t exactly stacked against him, but they aren’t in his favor either. The cards are about to be dealt, so let’s see how Hak and Quinn play them when they fall.

 

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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