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.
Amid offensive inconsistency the past two games, in which the Flyers have only scored a total of four goals, coach John Stevens has mixed up the lines once again in an attempt to capture some depth production.
“It’s more because of lack of production,” said Stevens. “We had a three lines before that could all score and a fourth that could chip in and we liked the feel of it better.”
One day before the Flyers travel to Florida for a five-day team building trip, Flyers’ coach John Stevens explains his thoughts on the team’s heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Saturday. Teemu Selanne scored two third-period goals, including one to tie the game with 16-seconds remaining.
“When you lose a game like that it stings and I hate losing,” Stevens said. “There was a breakdown on the first goal and after looking at the second goal about 100 times, there is a couple things we can address and do better. But sometimes great players make great plays. Every guy on the ice at that time has come to us and asked if they could have done something differently, (the Ducks) just made a great play in that situation.”
Despite back-to-back losses, the Flyers have earned seven of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season. A big change over the team’s 0-3-3 record after the first six games of the 2008-09 season.
“Our team is playing hard,” Stevens said. “We like the thing we’ve done in the games. We’ve been out chancing the other team, the power play moving the puck great, Ray (Emery) has been sharp in the net. Lots of good things to like after the first five games.”
The Flyers will be back in action on Oct. 16 against the Florida Panthers.
It may not have been a real game, but it was the closest thing so far.
The Flyers held two intra-squad scrimmages on Tuesday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., one being dominated by Jeff Carter and the other Ray Emery.
VOORHEES — With all but one forward roster spot filled for the 2009-10 season, the biggest question for the Flyers becomes … who is with who?
“I like the combination of forwards we have now,” said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “We have three really good lines and we have a ton of guys who are competing for a spot on the team. And that’s a good situation to have going into training camp.”
The Flyers open training camp on Sept. 13 at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. And although the team is primarily keeping the same line chemistry as last season, there will be some changes.
VOORHEES — For those who assumed that Blair Betts’ training camp try out would automatically end in a roster spot – think again.
On his first day of skating at the Flyers’ practice facility at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., Betts didn’t seem confident that he was a shoe-in on the Flyers’ roster.
“We have been talking to the Flyers for a couple months and there seems to be a little bit of interest from them,” said Betts, who spent the last four years with the Rangers. “There is an opportunity (to earn a contract) but I don’t know how great of an opportunity it is.
“My conversations with them (Paul Holmgren and John Stevens) were very short. I was told to play hard and work hard and an opportunity may open up for me. That’s all I’m focusing on right now.”
Former Buffalo first-round pick Jiri Novotny, considered Philadelphia his last shot at staying in the NHL. But the deal wasn’t to be.
According to Swiss league magazine Slapshot, Novotny has failed to come to terms with the Flyers and has secured a verbal deal with Swiss team Geneva-Servette. However, something may come in the way of Novotny and the Swiss league, which could land the player in the KHL.
“The 26-year-old Novotny still keeps the option open to Russia in the KHL. A collaboration with the Philadelphia Flyers failed.”
Flyers’ coach John Stevens made it clear on Monday, that he plans for Claude Giroux to remain at center. A decision that could have been solidified by the failure to come to terms with Novotny.
The Flyers’ roster became a little more settled on Tuesday, when coach John Stevens announced Claude Giroux will begin the season at center and Danny Briere at right wing.
In a Q&A piece from The Courier Post, Stevens made it clear where he thinks Giroux fits on the Flyers this season.
After a listless 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, the Flyers’ management gave the team absolute hell. General Manager Paul Holmgren called out individual players and coach John Stevens searched for ways to get his team motivated with just a handful of games remaining and playoff seeding in jeopardy.
But thanks to the schedule makers, the Flyers will have a chance for redemption tonight, as they host the Leafs at 7 p.m., in what can’t be called anything less than a must-win game.
With just eight games left in the regular season, the Flyers are starting to heat up. And at the same time, the seemingly invincible New Jersey Devils are falling apart.
After dwindling in the distance, 11 points behind the Devils for the Atlantic Division lead, the Flyers have closed the gap to just six points with a game in hand. The Flyers have won four of their last five games, including a big win over Jersey. The Devils are headed in a different direction, losing four in a row and making it possible, that if they can’t turn their situation around quickly, they might just get caught.
“We’ve lost four in a row now and we’ve won one of our last six, so I’d say it’s a big game,” said Devils coach Brent Sutter about his team’s upcoming game against the rival Rangers. “The reality of it all is that at this time of year every game is a big game. Every game is a desperate game because you know your opposition is going to be fighting for something. We’re still fighting for something. Philly wins tonight and they’re six points behind us with a game in hand.”
With Jersey looking for answers and off tonight, the Flyers have a golden opportunity to gain further ground when they host Eastern Conference leader Boston tonight at 7 p.m.
“I think the most important thing is taking each game individually and try and improve our point total,” said Flyers coach John Stevens, when asked about catching the Devils. “We want to get our team game together and if we’re playing well and winning a good share of games we’ll get where we need to go.”