Candidates to be Flyers’ coach: Paul Maurice

Throughout May and possibly into June, we’ll look at potential candidates for the Flyers’ head coaching vacancy.

“We’re going to sit down and try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all options open, maybe look at it from a little broader perspective,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said May 3. “Clearly we have to sit down and really drill down in terms of what we’re looking for. I’m sure there will be a lot of quality candidates we’ll speak to. “

We’ve looked at Barry Trotz and Rick Tocchet. Next up in our series is Paul Maurice.

Why Maurice would be a fit

The 55-year-old is well-respected in the game, with NHL head coaching experience stemming to when he was 28 years old.

Maurice has coached the fourth-most games in NHL history (1,684), behind only Scotty Bowman (2,141), Trotz (1,812) and Joel Quenneville (1,768). He’s seventh in all-time regular-season wins (775), 53 ahead of the eighth-placed Alain Vigneault (722).

Highlighted by a trip to the 2002 Stanley Cup Final with the Hurricanes, Maurice’s summary features nine playoff berths and eight series victories.

At his most recent stop, Maurice lasted a long time in a Canadian market where coaches can be chewed up and quickly spit out by pressure. He spent parts of nine years with the Jets before respectfully resigning in December of this season. The Flyers find themselves facing a ton of pressure after having one of their worst seasons in franchise history, so Maurice’s savvy would be welcomed.

Maurice took Winnipeg to the playoffs five times. The best season of his head coaching career was 2017-18 when the Jets finished with 114 points at 52-20-10. Winnipeg went on to lose in the Western Conference Final to the Golden Knights expansion.

Over his tenure, the Jets scored the NHL’s seventh-most goals per game (2.98) and were tied for the 14th-fewest goals allowed per game (2.79). He’s known for using a man-to-man, get-after-it type of coverage in the defensive zone. His philosophy could help the Flyers cut down on the 3.56 goals per game they surrendered through the last two seasons, a mark that was tied for worst in the league.

Why Maurice would not be a fit

When he stepped down in Winnipeg, Maurice admitted to losing some passion and enjoyment for coaching through the pandemic coronavirus. He was honest about the Jets’ need of a new voice and his need for a break from the game.

The Flyers haven’t been in a spot of enjoyment over the last two seasons. This will be a hard job with a good deal of adversity from the onset. The Flyers need to make sure they hire a head coach who is fully invested, committed to the process and ready for the long haul. Maurice’s resignation could understandably give the Flyers a break.

While Maurice’s longevity has been impressive, his postseason marks haven’t been as good as the other established bench bosses in the league’s history. Maurice has a 41-51 record in the playoffs. Others like Trotz (83-79), Vigneault (78-77) and John Tortorella (56-64) have been to the postseason more and fared better.

As we noted when looking at Trotz, the Flyers went the experience route with Vigneault. Perhaps they want something a little different this time around.

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