Flyers GM Fletcher wants to find right fit in new coach

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers need a new coach. And they need to get younger. Find more talent. Spark interest in a sagging fanbase.

Oh, is that it?

It’s just the start of the long list of what promises to be a long offseason for the Flyers after what was on the short list of worst seasons in franchise history.

General manager Chuck Fletcher is on the clock.

Fletcher’s offseason rebuild that was supposed to send the Flyers into the playoffs this season was a flop and they won only 25 games. The Flyers fired coach Alain Vigneault in December and interim coach Mike Yeo isn’t coming back after the Flyers closed the season with nine losses in 11 games.

“We are going to sit down, try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all options open,” Fletcher said Tuesday. “Maybe look at it from a little broader perspective. I do not think we are at a loss at all. Clearly, we have to sit down and really drill down what we want in terms of what we are looking for.”

What are they looking for? A coach with the patience to play young players if the Flyers try their hand at a rebuild? Or a proven winner if the Flyers try and go for a quick fix?

Flyers chairman David Scott said in January that he didn’t think the franchise needed a three-to-five year plan and there was enough of a proven core to turn the team into a winner. Scott said he would give Fletcher “a blank check” to fix the Flyers.

Fletcher noted Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Travis Sanheim and goalie Carter Hart as key pieces of the future — key pieces of a team that was last in the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers, though, have 9.5% odds at getting the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.

“It is being aggressive in all phases. Certainly, part of it is we need to get younger, we have to get more talented,” Fletcher said. “We have to get faster. We have to aggressively look at trades, free agency, and can we add a couple players to supplement what we have here and make this team better. Another element will obviously be the return to health of certain players.”


Fletcher said he won’t be pressured into making a coaching decision.

“I think we are aware of the calendar, but the important thing is to get the right coach,” he said. “Get the right fit and the right chemistry. As long as it takes is what we will take.”


Once a team with one of the more ferocious home-ice advantages in the NHL, the Flyers routinely played to crowds of less than 10,000 in the Wells Fargo Center. The atmosphere was as dreary as the play on the ice and sharing the building with the 76ers – who pack the arena and have made it a place to be in the NBA — doesn’t help the Flyers’ standing as the No. 4 team in Philly.

The formula is easy: No playoff games, less revenue. The Flyers missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since a string of five straight absences from 1990-94.

“Of course, the revenue is a concern, but the bigger concern is getting the club to be more competitive, ”Fletcher said. “Revenues will follow as we get better. Our focus is on getting the best hockey team possible so fans do want to come back. The pressure is about winning and not necessarily on revenues. ”


The Flyers played without a team captain after they traded franchise cornerstone Claude Giroux to Florida at the trade deadline. The “C” on the sweater is an important role in the NHL, but no decision has been made on the next to serve.

“That’s about No. 20 on our list right now. We’ll get into that,” Fletcher said. “My assumption is we’ll get through this summer, get closer to training camp, sit down and make that assessment. The years I’ve been around it’s typically a management-coaching type of decision, but every time I’ve been involved.”

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.