VOORHEES – There’s a new coach from the University of North Dakota on the Flyers’ staff, only this one is from a different generation.
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol coached at UND for over a decade and now he’s being joined by someone who played for that school, Rick Wilson, as his new assistant here in Philadelphia.
Wilson was at UND long before Hakstol, from 1969-72 to be exact.
The 68-year-old Wilson replaces Gord Murphy, who last Tuesday was let go as an assistant coach in charge of the defense.
Wilson comes to the Flyers with 2,306 regular-season games of NHL experience in various coaching roles that spans 30 seasons in the league. He most recently was with the Dallas Stars, a franchise with which he spent 18 seasons over two separate terms of service and with whom he won a Stanley Cup under head coach Ken Hitchcock in 1999.
Basically, Wilson had been retired but is coming to what could be an exciting situation.
“I’ve known Rick for a long time, personally and professionally,’’ Hakstol said after Tuesday’s optional practice at the Skate Zone.
“I initiated contact with Rick last week.’’
Wilson is also familiar with new general manager Cliff Fletcher, who was GM of Minnesota for nine years. Wilson was an assistant coach with the Wild from 2010 to 2016.
What does Wilson bring to the table?
“He brings a wealth of experience,’’ Hakstol said. “. . .a tremendous feel with defensemen and the entire ‘D’ corps. He has the ability to communicate very well. I think it goes beyond the core of our defensemen. I think he will have a great effect on our entire group.’’
Wilson is expected to be on the ice for Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone.
It’s no secret the Flyers have had troubles with “team defense’’ this year. They are hovering around 30th in goals allowed.
Some of the young defense stars like Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov are experiencing sub-par years, at least numbers-wise.
Wilson could get things back on track.
“We’re a young corps,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Obviously, a new guy coming in and one leaving, there’s a little pressure on us. We all want to be our best. Hopefully we can do that.’’
Provorov seems to be lacking a little confidence in his game right now. Maybe Wilson can get that situation straightened out.
Is this sort of the dawn of a new day?
“As a whole team, we’ve got to do better,’’ Provorov said. “Play more consistently. We have to be at our best every game.’’
Wilson’s NHL coaching career started in 1988-89 as an assistant with the New York Islanders. He moved to the same role with the Los Angeles Kings the following season and stayed through 1992 before joining what was then the Minnesota North Stars.
He moved with the team to Dallas after his first season and stayed with the organization through 2009. He was an assistant coach from 1992-2002 and also spent 32 games as the team’s head coach during the 2001-02 season, going 13-11-7-1. Following that stretch, he moved into the position of associate coach until 2009.
Wilson spent the 2009-10 season as the associate coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wilson spent the 2016-17 season with the St. Louis Blues before returning to Dallas last season.
A native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Wilson has coached in 214 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Wilson played professionally for six seasons from 1972-78. His NHL playing career consisted of 239 games over four seasons from 1973-1977 with Montreal, St. Louis and Detroit. Wilson concluded his professional playing career in Philadelphia, appearing in 75 games for the AHL’s Philadelphia Firebirds in 1977-78.