On April 15, 2019, Alain Vigneault was hired as the 21st Head Coach in Flyers history. The franchise turned to an experienced mind to right the ship that was starting to sail after Dave Hakstol struggled to navigate the stormy seas.
But ever since his signing, there has been a big myth surrounding Vigneault – ‘he leans towards veterans over youth’. As a matter of fact, he inherited two young teams in the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers. Check out what some Rangers fans said when Vigneault was hired by the Flyers :
Our very own Derrik Bobb from Philly Sports Network, wrote an article on Vigneault a few months ago regarding playing time with the youth and veterans. As a matter of fact, Vigneault inherited the young Kevin Bieska (25), Alexander Edler (20), Roberto Luongo (27), Ryan Kesler (22), and the Sedin Twins (25), when he was hired by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006-07.
Moreover, the youth led the New York Rangers team in 2013, when Vigneault took over at the helm, with the likes of Jesper Fast (22), Ryan McDonagh (24), Chris Kreider (22), Derek Stepan (23), Carl Hagelin (25), Michael Del Zotto (23), Marc Staal (27), Anton Stralman (27), and Mats Zuccarello (26). I mean Rick Nash was only 29-years-old, as well.
Both teams were very young (Against what some believe), much like the 2019-20 Flyers team that Vigneault has inherited. If Vigneault did not believe in the youth infusion that surrounds this young Flyers team, then he would have started a 34-year-old Veteran netminder in Brian Elliott, over a 21-year-old netminder in Carter Hart on opening night. Hart gave up 4 goals in an exhibition game against Lausanne HC 3 days before opening night. Elliott came in relief of Hart midway through the second period, and played well.
Some people will say it was a no brainer to play Hart over Elliott in the season opener in Prague. Well no, Elliott came off a really strong outing against Lausanne HC, so those people cannot have their cake and eat it too. Vigneault played Hart because he is the future, and Elliott is not.
Vigneault also played young prospects Carsen Twarynski (Aged 21- 11:57 TOI), and Connor Bunnaman (Aged 21- 11:06 TOI), more than vets in Michael Raffl (10:11 TOI) and Tyler Pitlick (9:56) on opening night. So much for not playing the youth! Twarynski and Bunnaman just made the big club, and they both played more than some vets.
27-year old Kevin Hayes spoke about this after the season-opening win, in a one-on-one chat with Liam Jenkins:
“I’m used to that.” Hayes said. “I was in New York with him for four years, he likes his 12 guys, his 6 D-men and his one goalie. If everyone’s playing the right way, they’ll play. It enforces accountability. If the fourth line is playing well, it keeps the three other lines on their A-game. It’s a friendly competition.“
The biggest myth surrounding Vigneault has been debunked once again, and it was just one game. Vigneault believes in the youth infusion that exists with the orange and black. If he didn’t, then Vigneault would not have become the 21st Head Coach in Flyers history.
Jamey Baskow, 34, Flyers Guru, Sports Enthuiast
Follow me on Twitter@JameyBaskow