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December 17, 2018

Flyers have officially fired head coach Dave Hakstol

Sunday afternoon, Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post reported that the Flyers were firing Dave Hakstol after starting his fourth season with the franchise at a lowly 12-15-4. 

But the report and several others were walked back throughout the day, leading some to contemplate he may actually be safe, while others thought it was a ski trip keeping potential replacement Joel Quenneville from taking the gig, and thus holding up the actual news of Hakstol's firing.

A few hours after news broke that Carter Hart was being called up to finally make his NHL debut, the confirmation that Hakstol was being relieved of his duties came officially came down on Monday.

The Flyers have not said anything about their next step, but all signs point to a veteran voice stepping in to fill the shoes of the rookie head coach Hakstol, who came to Philly directly from North Dakota State. 

Here's what Isaac reported on Sunday:

Sources also indicated that Joel Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, has been offered the position and accepted it. It’s unknown if he will make his debut Tuesday night when the Flyers play against the Detroit Red Wings at home or after the holiday break. If he waits, look for Lehigh Valley Phantoms coach Scott Gordon to be an interim head coach until Quenneville joins the club. ...

There is some familiarity between Quenneville and Flyers new general manager Chuck Fletcher.

Fletcher’s father, Cliff, made Quenneville a player-coach with the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the 1991-92 season, his first as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  []

It seems, however, that the move may not be imminent.

In the meantime, Phantoms coach Scott Gordon, who has already become quite familiar with new goalie Carter Hart, will serve as interim head coach.

During his three-plus seasons with Philly, Hakstol went 134-101-42 during which time he led the Flyers to the playoffs twice — both first round exits in 2016 and 2018.

Even though the powers that be proclaimed him safe a few weeks ago, it seems they've now seen enough. Here’s what new GM Chuck Fletcher said in his introductory press conference.

“I’m a big believer in trying to get to know a situation before making a reaction,” he said. “I’d like to think we can solve a lot of the issues that have plagued the team this year and find a way to get better. I certainly have no intention of making a coaching change tomorrow, if that’s your question. I’m going to meet with Dave and we’re going to try to work together and push. Our goal is to try to make the playoffs this year, it’s that simple. We have work to do, and it’ll be a challenge. But there’s no reason why we can’t get better, and we can’t push to make the playoffs and find a way to get in.”

The firing comes a few weeks after the team decided to head in a “new direction” with the entire front office, relieving Ron Hextall of GM duties and bringing in Fletcher.

“I know everything that is out there,” Hakstol told the media prior to their recent Flyers' 5-1 loss to the Canucks. “You know me well enough by now. I know everything in terms of the rumors and what’s going on out there. My only concern is what we do, and the rest, I have no real comment on.”

The recent slide for the Flyers, losing 11 of their last 14 and their last four straight, isn’t necessarily all on the shoulders of Hakstol. He hasn’t had a single healthy or consistent goalie all season long — with a remarkable five netminders getting time in net over the team’s first 31 games.

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