Not sure exactly when it was, but at some point during the Flyers’ perplexing 1-6 stretch to finish Nov. and start Dec., it became clear that the question wasn’t if coach John Stevens was going to be fired, but when.
Coming off a dreadful 3-0 loss to the Canucks on Thursday night and being held scoreless through eight consecutive periods, the shoe has finally dropped on the three-year coach of the Orange and Black. On Friday evening, the Flyers announced that Stevens has been relieved of coaching duties and will be replaced on an interim basis by Craig Berube until a more permanent coach can be acquired.
A press conference will be held at 8 P.M. and televised on Comcast SportsNet.
Stevens was hired as coach of the Flyers in October of 2006, after Ken Hitchcock was fired due to a poor start to the season. Stevens, who coached the likes of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to a Calder Cup championship in 2005, was brought in to cultivate the younger talent.
However, as the talent got older, Stevens failed to take them to the next level. Despite leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008, the Flyers have been inconsistent and have been criticized by general manager Paul Holmgren as lifeless.
Maybe it’s the fact that Flyers’ starting goaltender Ray Emery is 1-4 in his last five starts or just a gut feeling from coach John Stevens, but reserve goalie Brian Boucher is set to make back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
After a four-day rest, coming off a respectable showing between the pipes in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta, Boucher will make his fifth start of the season versus Vancouver on Thursday with Emery likely getting the call on Saturday against Washington. Boucher is 2-6-1 lifetime against the Canucks.
Recovering from a shaky start to the season, Boucher has rebounded with two wins in his last three starts, lowering his GAA to an impressive 2.01.
Before the start of the season, it was leaked that Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery would sport a special mask for the Winter Classic game against the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day. The mask will feature the goalies of Flyers past, Ron Hextall, Bernie Parent and Pelle Lindbergh.
But as it seems, that might not be the only new equipment Emery will wear. Seen in practice wearing classic brown equipment, Emery appeared to be breaking in the new-old duds not seen since Parent and Lindbergh.
No new equipment, other than the mask, has been confirmed. But that brown seems to be a bit too “classic” to be anything other.
Will the real Flyers’ captain please stand up?
At 35-years old, defenseman Chris Pronger was brought into the Flyers organization in the offseason to help shape up a young squad and act as guidance for 24-year old captain Mike Richards. But after losing five of their last six games and battling ever-growing pressure to improve, the real locker room leader is emerging and it’s not the one wearing the “C”.
“We need to make it [bleeping] happen on Thursday [versus Vancouver],” Pronger said. “It needs to [bleeping] happen now, so we can get over that hump and get this ship headed into the right direction.”