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April 17, 2015

Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after two seasons

The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head coach Craig Berube after 18 years -- both as a coach and player --with the organizations, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

On Wednesday, Hextall met with the media and told them that Berube was still the coach of the team, but he and his staff were looking carefully at whether or not their coach for the most out of his players. It appears, at least according to the GM, that Berube did not.

"I just feel he didn't get enough out of our group collectively," Hextall said Friday during a conference call with reporters.

"You really have to decide, is the coach is the right coach for your team now," Hextall added. "If the answer to that is no, you need to move on.  I’m not going to hedge my bet here and say OK, I see a great coach that I can put in play, so I’m going to make this move.  If you don’t think it’s the right head coach you’ve got to move on, and that’s what we did here."

Furthermore, the rookie GM said he didn't ask his players about what their thought of their coach, saying the decision was more about the "feel" and on-ice results than what the players would have said. Early this week, veteran forward Vinny Lecavalier said the only way he can be successful in Philadelphia is if Berube is no longer the coach.

"I’m not one of those guys that necessarily looks at the players and are the players happy or are they players unhappy," said Hextall. "I think in the end a coach’s job is to get the most out of his players, and in the end that’s the conclusion that I came to, was that that wasn’t the case."

"If it wasn’t a tough decision it would have been done on Sunday. It was a tough decision. I believe Craig is an NHL coach and will go on to be an NHL coach."

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately, according to the team.

Hextall, who said he and Berube are good friends, hopes to have a coach in place by the NHL Draft in late June. Some names that have been thrown out there as possible candidates include Mike Babcock of the Red Wings, as well as Claude Julien of the Bruins and Todd McClellan of the Sharks, although all three are currently employed.

Flyers chairman Ed Snider released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“It is always difficult to let somebody go that has worked so hard and has particularly been such a great member of our organization. I wish Craig the absolute best in the future and I really appreciate everything he has done for the Flyers. I know that Ron has agonized over making this decision. He studied over the situation very carefully and finally made the decision. Obviously he is the general manager and I support him in what he does and I am looking forward to whoever he hires and hoping we can have a much better season next year that we did this season.”

Berube, the 18th head coach in Flyers history, took over on October 7, 2013, when the team fired his predecessor, Peter Laviolette, three games into the season. After this season, his record as coach stands at 75-58-28 (.553), but the team failed to make the postseason this year. That's the second time in three seasons the Flyers didn't make the playoffs after 16 appearances in the previous 17 seasons.

"If it wasn’t a tough decision it would have been done on Sunday," Hextall said. "It was a tough decision. I believe Craig is an NHL coach and will go on to be an NHL coach. But like I said, in the end it’s more collectively as a group, it’s getting the most out of each individual and then collectively pulling that effort together, and in the end squeezing the most out of your team. And that’s the part that I just felt like in the end, it wasn’t enough."

Berube spent 18 seasons with the organization -- 10 as a player, six as an assistant coach and two as head coach -- and spent time in all three roles with both the Flyers and Phantoms.