VOORHEES – Even though the odds appear to be stacked against interim head coach Scott Gordon returning to the Flyers’ bench next season, that doesn’t mean the Flyers’ players can’t lobby for such a move.
It’s doubtful general manager Chuck Fletcher will tip his hand regarding the coaching position when he addresses the media at a Monday morning press conference at the Skate Zone, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a ton of speculation about what his future intentions are.
Gordon came into a tough situation back in mid-December, with Fletcher (a new GM himself) naming Gordon to go from Phantoms head coach to Flyers head coach to succeed Dave Hakstol.
Once Gordon got everyone playing on the same page, they went about digging themselves out of a 16-point playoff berth deficit.
Starting Jan. 14, they went on an 18-4-2 tear and got the margin all the way down to three points.
Then fatigue and a brutal schedule conspired to pop the balloon and they finished 3-10 from mid-March to the finish line.
Still, the players appreciate what Gordon accomplished and gave the impression at Sunday’s getaway day that they would like to see him back next season.
The hot rumor is that three-time Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville, fired last season by the Chicago Blackhawks, will be making his way east.
Jake Voracek and his teammates believe they can get the job done with Gordon.
“I’ll be honest, Gordo did a great job this year,’’ Voracek said. “He gave us new life and ideas. He’s a really good coach. I don’t know what is going to happen. That’s obviously a question for Chuck.
A lot of players had a lot of fun under him.
“Like I said, that hole (left by Hakstol’s regime) was too big for us to make up. He (Gordon) has got a tremendous amount of respect for the players. I’ve really enjoyed Gordo as a coach. We’ll see what’s going to happen.’’
Gordon’s system and method seemed to give the Flyers confidence.
“I think there was certainty from him, which is really important for players,’’ Voracek said. “It’s not going to happen where you 100 percent agree with the coach. As long as you have 20 guys on the same page, you’re going to have a good chance to find a way to win the game and that’s what happened with Gordo.’’
Added Shayne Gostisbehere: “He was a good coach to have. If I make a mistake and a coach comes up to me on the bench and tells me about the mistake. . .sometimes you need that kick in the butt.’’
Gordon and rookie goalie Carter Hart came up to the Flyers from the Phantoms on the same day, Dec. 17. Hart said Gordon was extremely helpful for him making the transition to the NHL.
“It’s pretty hard for anyone to come in with situation he was handed at any level,’’ Hart said. “So for him to do that at the NHL level and excel really speaks words to his coaching style and how much the guys respect him.
“I was with him from my start of pro this year in Lehigh and then we both got called up on the same day. He’s done a really good job of handling the day-to-day with us, and with the situation he was given, for him to come in and excel the way he did really speaks a lot of words to who he is as a coach and as a person. The guys really respect him and we all really like playing for him.’’
>Provorov says he was healthy
Third-year defenseman said he was completely healthy all season, no after-effects of shoulder injury during last year’s playoff series against Pittsburgh.
“I was a hundred percent healthy by June, July,’’ said Provorov. “We’re all disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs. I think I could have been better.’’
Provorov is now a restricted free agent. He doesn’t anticipate any problems with a new contract.
“I like everything about Philadelphia,’’ he said, “so it’s not going to be a problem.’’
He has never missed a game in his three-year NHL career and has now played in a Flyers record 246 straight games from the start of a career. It’s a source of pride with him.
>Gostisbehere believes he can do better
The defenseman is his own worst critic and he had plenty to be critical about this past campaign.
“Definitely the toughest season I’ve been through in my four-year career,’’ he said.
There were rumors that Gostisbehere might be hurt, especially after he finished the season a minus-20. He looked a step slower and eventually wound up on the third defense pairing after starting the season on the first.
“I am a little banged up,’’ he said. “Nothing to write home about. No surgeries or anything like that. Can’t use injuries as an excuse, I’m not an excuse guy. I didn’t have the best season. It was a mental grind. That ‘dash-20’ is something I’m not proud of.’’