Mike Yeo trusted with helping the Flyers rise from the ashes

Flyers' Mike Yeo
PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 10: Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Mike Yeo looks on during the game between the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers on February 10, 2020 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Chuck Fletcher joined The John Kincade Show this morning. Last week, he fired Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien, making Mike Yeo the interim head coach. Since then, there have been a few burning questions amongst the Philadelphia Flyers fanbase. Who will Fletcher hire to be the next official head coach? Was the fault on Vigneault, or did the players dismiss accountability?

John Kincade, Jamie Lynch, Bob Cooney, and Pat Egan asked the right questions during their time with Fletcher on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Starting with Kincade, he pressed the buttons regarding the coaching search. Will Fletcher aggressively pursue Rick Tocchet, the overwhelming favorite candidate amongst the fanbase? It sounds like he wants to see how the players perform with Yeo.

“I’ve been a manager for parts of fourteen seasons. This is only the second time I made an in-season coaching change. I generally don’t believe in them.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

Each time, Yeo became the interim head coach. In his defense, Yeo knows what it’s like to coach two different franchises into the second round of the playoffs as a legitimate head coach with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. What about the identity of the Flyers? Many point to Vigneault and Therrien, but Fletcher identified other worries.

“Some of it’s talent. Some of it’s the era and league we play in. We saw Colorado the other night generate fifty chances against us with incredible speed and skill.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

He could have a point. In 2019-2020, the players remaining in Philadelphia bought in to what Vigneault was selling, but uninspired play from last season trickled into 2021-2022.

“In the 2019-2020 season, Vigneault’s first season, we were a hard team to play against. Not necessarily the most physical team, but we played fast, we were a good forechecking team, we created turnovers, we had the puck a lot, and we generally dictated the pace of the game. We haven’t been able to get back to that game.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

Dale Weise noted a coach like Vigneault would find another coaching opportunity in the NHL. In doing so, he was quick to point out that Vigneault held his players accountable. Accountability has been a theme jabbing into the Flyers’ culture. Previously, on an episode of Spittin’ Chiclets, Weise commented on the note of accountability during his time in Philadelphia.

It’s why Fletcher is testing his roster with Yeo as the head coach in 2021-2022. Players are pressing and struggling. Allowing the players to respond is correct before slapping another head coach as a band-aid.

“I worked with Mike longer and in more areas. I felt his communication skills right now are what we need. We obviously have a lot of players who are trying and wanting to do better but are really struggling.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

Is this a rebuild? Is it a retooling period? Yes and no. Fletcher squarely believes both can happen at the same time. It’s about finding the right personnel with an affinity for drafting well.

“I think you can do both. I think this franchise has been working that way, going back to 2014. There was never a full tear down. It was try to do as well in the present and then really focus on drafts.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

That’s a style clash, especially in the flat cap era. Few teams can manage what Fletcher is aiming for, usually relying too much on veterans without the proper development of prospects and rookies, which kept the Flyers treading water, not swimming with consistent success.

“There’s never players buying into a coach that gets fired. We need to find out what we are.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/8/2021

Again, accountability comes into question. Fletcher must concentrate on who buys in to contribute in Philadelphia, regardless of who the head coach is. He believes Yeo is the voice the team currently needs. Players in the final year of their contract may be phasing out. There’s a lot of hockey left to climb back up the standings, but time is of the essence.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire