Where Do the Flyers Go Now? Three Candidates to Replace Vigneault

Rick Tocchet
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 15: Philadelphia Flyers Alumni coach Rick Tocchet (22) waves during the Flyers Alumni Orange and Black game on November 15, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Flyers have lost eight straight games and are in their worst stretch of losses in the now completed Alain Vigneault era. Frank Seravalli, as he is known to do, broke the news:

The goals have been hard to come by for the struggling Flyers. Lackluster play, including an anemic powerplay, had the Flyers’ faithful calling for heads. But the nail in the coffin for Alain Vigneault was the 7-1 drubbing by the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts were coming into Philadelphia on the tail end of a back-to-back and having played three games in four days, it was to be the Bolts’ fourth game in five days. The Flyers were off since Wednesday and had a nice three-day rest. The key was to see how the Flyers’ responded.

The Flyers were buzzing but just couldn’t figure out how to get the puck past former Flyer Brian Elliot. The Lightening did not have that problem, putting in seven goals and letting everyone know why they are the two-time defending cup champions. It was a statement that the Flyers were in trouble and something had to give. Mike Yeo will be the interim coach as the Flyers host the Colorado Avalanche tonight, as Michel Therian was also fired.

Hall of Fame Bench Boss?

As we look at the potential coaching pool, the Flyers are in need of a leader who continues to get the best out of his players. I look at the candidates, and one truly stands out to me is Flyers’ Hall of Famer, Rick Tocchet. The only issue I see here is that it’s more of the same, Flyers helping Flyers. However, that may not be a bad thing as the Flyers seem to have no identity. Tocchet brings that Philidelphia identity, and if he isn’t a strong candidate, they are missing the mark.

Tocchet brings a wealth of experience to the bench. As a sixth-round pick of the Flyers, his career was simply outstanding. Tocc played in three decades and played in 1144 games. Tocc is a three-time Stanley Cup winner, twice as an assistant coach, and all were three with the Penguins. He was the head coach for the Arizona Coyotes for four seasons and Tampa Bay for two.

Tocchet is a legend in Philadelphia, having played parts of eleven seasons for the Flyers. Tocc was a perfect power forward. He could definitely score, but he became a fan favorite for being able to “chuck em.” In a recent piece by Jordan Hall, Tocc had a great quote regarding fanfare.

“My funny thing is I remember I would go out with the late great Peter Zezel. The girls would go after Peter and the guys would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, great goal last night, but you didn’t get into a fight.’ I used to get that a lot, I used to laugh at that a lot. If you got into a fight or something, all of a sudden your tab’s paid for.”

Tocchet and the Flyers just make too much sense.

Lane Lambert

If you look at Twitter, besides Tocchet, Barry Trotz is also getting a lot of attention from the Flyers Faithful. Since Trotzy is currently on Long Island, could Trotz’ long-time assistant Lane Lambert be a candidate? Lambert is a 57-year-old Canadian from Saskatchewan. He has head coaching experience in the WHL and AHL. Lambert has been with Trotz since the Nashville days and has won the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018.

Lambert was the victim of the Islander’s success last year. Being in the playoff run, he was unable to interview for the vacant head coaching jobs, including the Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes. Lambert has coached in 450 games in the AHL and WHL. He compiled a winning record of 230-169-10. Lambert is known to get the most out of his players and was credited with getting both Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov to jumpstart their offensive production prior to winning the cup. Plus, he has great hair and great moves:

Lambert would be a great option that is a bit outside of the Flyers’ normal way of thinking.

The Outside The Box Option

Rikard Grönborg is a Swedish coach that is currently coaching the ZCS Lions in Switzerland. Grönborg is best known as the former and long-time Swedish National Team head coach. He comes with a reputation that is undeniable., and Grönborg has had a hand in the majority of the Swedish NHL Players’ development.

NHL clubs have been reluctant to hire coaches from Europe. However, Grönborg isn’t just any European coach. He played collegiately in Minnesota at St. Cloud State, which gives him an understanding of the North American game. He also is married to an American and has dual citizenship. Grönborg spent the first ten years of his coaching career coaching in the states. His contract with ZCS Lions has an NHL opt-out clause.

If they were to hire Grönborg, it would be the last move expected by the Flyers. However, they could change the NHL’s way of thinking. Is Chuck Fletcher ready to be a trailblazer? By his own admission, Grönborg stated to be hired, he would need a GM who is willing to stick his neck out a bit.

Regardless of how the head coaching search ends, which most likely will end with Fletcher hiring someone from Minnesota, the Flyers have to find an identity and decide if they are going to go forward or rebuild. That decision has to happen NOW. If a rebuild is decided, please send Claude Giroux to a contender so he can win the cup!