VOORHEES – After a year off, Alain Vigneault said he wanted to get back into coaching again but only if the right circumstances presented themselves.
He chose the Flyers because he believes they can give him the only glaring thing missing on a glowing resume: A Stanley Cup.
Vigneault has had a couple close calls, with Vancouver in 2011 and the New York Rangers in 2014 – both teams losing in the Cup Final.
Ultimately, he came to terms with the Flyers because he feels they have a legitimate shot at the big prize and that’s the main reason why he signed a five-year, $25-million contract on Monday.
“A year away from the game, it put a lot of things in perspective for myself about how much I love the game, how much I love to coach, and how much I need one more thing,’’ Vigneault said at Thursday’s introductory press conference at the Skate Zone.
“In my bucket list, I need one more thing, I need to win a Stanley Cup. I’ve come close twice. I’ve been very lucky to work for three great organizations, the Montreal Canadiens, the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers. I’ve come close twice. I think this will be the right one.’’
Before signing his contract with general manager Chuck Fletcher, Vigneault took a close look at the Flyers’ roster, plus the development system and the support staff to determine if he had the right choice in mind.
“I really believe that we’ve got some strong pieces,’’ Vigneault said. “Chuck and I have talked in-depth about the areas we’re hoping we’re going to be able to improve. It might not happen quickly, but we feel that we’re going to be able to do it. After a year off and figuring out I’ll never be the golfer I thought I would be, it’s time for me to get back to work.’’
Vigneault said there were several reasons why he chose the Flyers, and the possibility of winning a championship topped the list.
“First thing I was looking for was an opportunity to win,’’ he said. “An opportunity in the short term to win a Stanley Cup. When I look at and analyze the parts we have here in Philly, when I look at and analyze the options that we have in improving this team, it gets a check mark from me.’’
What makes Vigneault believe the Flyers are close to contention?
“You look, in my mind, at three things,’’ Vigneault said. “There’s some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own. There’s great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There’s a solid core group that in my mind needs the right direction. And you’ve got the combination also of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league.
“There are some solid pieces that in my mind and, after discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together will be a very good team in the near future.’’
Fletcher wanted to bring in a coach with a proven track record. He believes Vigneault knows the formula it takes to win at the highest level.
Now it’s just a matter of instituting that plan.
“Players look for direction,’’ Vigneault said. “If you give a player and a team a path and you do this, you do it this way, you put in the time, you’re going to have success.
“You do the same thing with your team, they’re going to follow you. Those are my intentions here individually and team-wise. I’m extremely excited to be here in Philly. This is without a doubt one of the best franchises in the National Hockey League. In my mind and after talking to a lot of people who have been in the game that know this franchise, this team is on the upswing. We’re here to work on winning and bringing a Cup.’’