After a season in which the Flyers recorded a new franchise-high for man-games lost due to injury, general manager Chuck Fletcher has gone out and done something about it.
The Flyers announced on Thursday that after a global search process, the organization has hired Ian McKeown for the newly created position of Vice President, Athlete Performance and Wellness, according to. Fletcher.
In this role, McKeown will establish and oversee a comprehensive and coordinated health and wellness program for all players within the Flyers organization while working closely with the team of doctors and specialists at Penn Medicine.
In hiring McKeown, the Flyers join other leading sports organizations in implementing modern health and wellness programs that ensure athletes receive comprehensive, collaborative care from doctors, trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists, strength coaches, and rehabilitation and physical therapy specialists who can contribute to player health and overall wellness.
“In order to compete at the highest level in today’s game, our players need and deserve a modern, comprehensive performance and wellness program, and by hiring Ian for this new role, we’re investing in a world-class program that we believe will significantly impact our players and our team,” said Fletcher in a statement released through the team’s public relations department.
“We are very excited to bring Ian into our group, and his experience in enabling peak athletic performance is unmatched. He will have a direct impact in reshaping and enhancing our players’ abilities to perform at the highest level each day, including in practices and games, and recover on days away from the rink.”
The Flyers were decimated by injuries last year, with Ryan Ellis, Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes missing significant parts of their seasons.
Philadelphia hopes McKeown can get things turned around.
“My career has taken me all over the world. My goal is to work with good people, doing great work. There are great people around here and as soon as I started to speak with people from the organization, I fell in love with it,” said McKeown. “I’m here to make a difference. For me it’s about being really strategic and smart about creating the right environment where people just can’t help but get better, being connected and a part of something special. But we also work in a performance sport. We’re expecting you to work hard and to have incredibly high standards.”
The addition of McKeown and the creation of this role is the latest step in the significant, ongoing investment that the Flyers organization has made to support players on and off the ice. Thanks to those recent investments, the Flyers now have one of the largest analytics staffs in the NHL, a first-class training facility (Flyers Training Center), and a robust player development program with coaches and support staff.
In this new role, McKeown will work across all of the organization’s relevant departments – including the analytics department – to create customized, comprehensive health and wellness plans for each of the Flyers players.
McKeown is a widely-respected practitioner of high-performance training and wellness, and he joins the Flyers after spending the previous nine seasons with Port Adelaide FC of the Australian Rules Football League (AFL) in Adelaide, Australia where he was the Head of High Performance for the team. He was selected by the Flyers after a wide-ranging, global search for a leader with a proven record of establishing and maintaining a modern, holistic performance and wellness program for world-class athletes.
At Port Adelaide, McKeown designed and implemented an organization-wide commitment to strategic training and wellness consisting of a team of sports science, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning professionals in direct collaboration with players and coaches. He has also consulted for world-class sports organizations, which included professional teams in the United States and top-level rugby clubs around the world.
A native of County Down in Northern Ireland, McKeown has spent the last 12 years living in Australia, where he earned a Ph.D. in Strength and Conditioning from the University of Canberra. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports and Exercise Science from Ulster University in Northern Ireland.
McKeown’s approach to working with athletes balances the technical, physical, coaching, and human elements of high-level athletic performance, and his work incorporates extensive research and data-driven decision making. He also places a strong emphasis on areas like nutrition, sports psychology, and sports science in his performance systems.