While Craig Berube deserves much of the credit for coaching the St. Louis Blues in an amazing run to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, let’s not forget there was some structure already in place when he took over midway through the 2018-19 season.
The gentleman who helped create that roster goes by the name Mike Yeo, the coach Berube replaced.
Yeo, named interim head coach of the Flyers this past Monday, pulled off what almost amounted to a similar “miracle’’ back in the 2016-17 season when he took over for Ken Hitchcock midway through the campaign and drove the Blues to a 22-8-2 mark to reach the playoffs.
At the press conference announcing Yeo to his new position with the Flyers, general manager Chuck Fletcher alluded to that comeback in 2017 and he probably had vivid memories of that season because Yeo beat his Minnesota Wild team in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s Fletcher’s hope the 48-year-old Canadian can perform some similar magic with the current roster of Flyers’ players.
What did Yeo do to turn things around some four years ago in St. Louis? And does this team have the potential to get up off the floor as the Blues did?
“I remember we had some real jump at that time and we won a few games,’’ Yeo said the other night after the game at New Jersey. “But then we went on a five-game losing streak and so I think there was a 10-game period (where) it took a little time.’’
Here in Philadelphia the thing is the Flyers don’t have much time to turn things around. While there’s still more than two-thirds of the season to be played, the Flyers have already dug themselves a double-digit hole in the standings. Plus, the Flyers aren’t just chasing one or two teams, they’re skating after a bunch of them.
“I don’t know if we want to wait that long,’’ Yeo said with a chuckle as he talked about a timeline to a projected comeback. “That’s not the case at all. You certainly want to get some results to help build whether it’s the confidence or the swagger we need here.’’
For the Flyers to get off the deck, they are going to have to get all hands on it. That means production from Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk and the like. As of Friday, all were buried in scoring slumps. Plus, Joel Farabee is going to be out for some time with what appears to be a shoulder injury, which means the lower lines have to start chipping in more.
“I remember very specifically (in 2017) a point where the players really started to believe in the game we were capable of playing,’’ Yeo said. “That’s our challenge right now. On a daily basis, we have to show them what that’s like. Then we have to find a way to believe in it and go out and play it for 60 minutes.’’
As captain Claude Giroux pointed out on Monday, Yeo as an assistant was someone the players really listened to. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain that level of respect and belief now that he’s the head coach. . .and get some positive results.
All the Flyers have to do is watch highlights of that 2017 Blues team to get a reference point for the answer to that one.
>Another honor for Holmgren
Belated congratulations to Paul Holmgren for his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame the other night in ceremonies which were held in Denver.
As any Flyer fan knows, Holmgren basically held every position in the organization short of selling popcorn – player, assistant coach, head coach, assistant general manager, general manager and president. Last month he was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame along with Rick Tocchet.
Holmgren has been equally active and prominent with the United States national program, including Olympic teams. The American men have fared pretty well over the past 20 years and came within a Sidney Crosby overtime goal in Vancouver (2010) of winning a gold medal.
Now Holmgren serves as an invaluable senior advisor on the Flyers and you can believe he has the ears of both team governor Dave Scott and Fletcher.
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