THANK. FUCKING. GOD.
I’ll be honest, I was starting to get worried that I wouldn’t be alive to see the day when the Flyers finally canned Hak. But Chuck Fletcher is a beautiful son of a bitch and I want to kiss him on the lips right now. You figured he should have been fired in the offseason after the Flyers continuously got their asses kicked at home in the playoffs. You figured he should have been fired after the home opener when we saw the same exact shit out of this Flyers team that we’ve seen in the past. You figured he should have been fired after the team gave up 4 goals in the first period to the Buffalo Sabres and then again 2 games later to the Maple Leafs. You figured he should have been fired after the team got their dicks kicked in by the Jets 7-1 on Sunday. Or after giving up a 2-goal lead to the Flames in the final 1:08 and then losing in overtime the other night. There have been so many opportunities and so many reasons to fire Dave Hakstol. But we finally don’t have to worry about that anymore because the day has finally come. Dave Hakstol is no longer the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers men’s professional hockey team and now the healing process finally begins.
Listen. Never will I ever shit on Dave Hakstol the human being. I’m sure that he’s a great father and husband and all that jazz. But I don’t give a single fuck about that. Because as far as a head coach in the National Hockey League goes? This experiment was an absolute disaster. Hakstol lacked the leadership qualities necessary to get a group of grown ass men to follow his lead. He came from North Dakota where he had a very successful career. But it’s such a different beast to be in charge of a bunch of college kids as opposed to professional athletes. Whatever Hak was doing in NoDak sure as shit wasn’t clicking here in Philly. And as a result, what he did to this franchise was downright criminal. Ever since Hakstol took charge of the Flyers, this team lost any semblance of an identity. There is literally nothing that defines this team right now besides the word “mediocrity” and that is Hakstol’s fault. They don’t play fast. They don’t play physical. They don’t beat you with a skill game. They don’t do anything besides exist at this point. The Flyers have zero identity. Zero. And that’s the first thing that a new coach will have to bring back to this organization.
Because here’s the deal. I don’t give a single fuck about “systems” or “philosophies” or any other word that people throw out there to describe coaches. Because in the NHL, every coach is essentially using the same exact plan with just a few minor tweaks here and there. NHL coaches aren’t out there calling crucial plays on 3rd down like an NFL coach or some shit like that. What makes a great NHL coach is a man who the guys would die for out there on the ice. A leader of men. A guy who is going to get the best out of his guys night in and night out not just because of some system, but because he inspires the team to be great. Dave Hakstol was not that guy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everybody is cut out to be a great NHL coach. But now the Flyers have an opportunity to go out there and find somebody who is.
Now is Quenneville the guy? Who knows. Obviously that decision is way more up to Joel Quenneville than it is to the Flyers. Q will have as many offers on his table as teams who need a new coach. So while the Flyers will be targeting him to replace Hakstol, so will a bunch of other teams. But the situation makes sense for Quenneville here. This team isn’t in a full rebuild. They are ready to contend as soon as they have a competent goalie in net and they trim some of the fat on the roster. So Quenneville can come here and compete right away. Also, the Fletcher family and Quenneville have some previous connections with Chuck Fletcher’s dad giving Quenneville his first coaching gig in the NHL. So the relationship is there, the team makes sense for Quenneville, it just depends on his personal preference. But even if it’s not Quenneville, at least it’s not Hakstol. And that’s all that matters. What a time to be a Flyers fan.
UPDATE: I wrote this blog last night when I knew that Quenneville was the next guy but it wasn’t official yet. Now it is. New blog on Q coming right up. Let’s fucking gooooo.