Flyers and Kings Name Alain Vigneault and Todd McLellan As New Head Coaches
The news may may have slipped though the cracks amid all of the current playoff action and chaos, so let’s update the latest NHL head coaching appointments. The Philadelphia Flyers recently inked Alain Vigneault as their new bench boss and the Los Angeles Kings hired Todd McLellan.
Philly general manager Chuck Fletcher announced the hiring of the 57-year-old Vigneault and said he’s somebody he’s always respected and admired for his on and off-ice personality.
Vigneault has previous head coaching experience in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks. He enjoyed a five-year stint with the Rangers most recently and missed the postseason just once while leading the club to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013/14 only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings. He also helped the team win the President’s Trophy as the Rangers set a franchise-record 113 points in 2014/15.
Vigneault, who hails from Quebec City, Canada is a former minor league player who began his head coaching days with the Habs back in 1997/98. He spent three full seasons with Montreal and missed the playoffs in his last two. He was then fired after 20 games of the 2000/01 campaign.
He didn’t return to the NHL until 2006/07 when he landed in Vancouver. He coached seven full seasons and missed the playoffs just once with the Canucks and also won six divisional titles. They won the 2009/10 President’s Trophy with a club-record 117 points and 54 wins in and lost the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the Boston Bruins. The Canucks were President’s Trophy winners again in 2011/12, but Vigneault was fired in May of 2013 after losing in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season.
Vigneault started the 2013/14 campaign with the Rangers and missed the playoffs only in 2017/18 and was then let go after the season. He has coached 1,216 regular-season NHL games with a record of 648-435-98. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL coach of the year for 2006/07 with the Canucks and is the franchise’s winningest head coach.
His career winning percentage in the regular season is 58.8 and his squads have reached the 100-point mark in eight of the last 11 years he’s worked as a head coach. He takes over in Philadelphia from Scott Gordon, who was named the interim head coach last December when Dave Hakstol was fired. Gordon went 25-22-4 with the team the rest of the way, but failed to make the playoffs.
Gordon took over in Philly from his post with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League where he had been since 2015/16. GM Fletcher has said Gordon is welcome to take over behind the bench with the Phantoms if he wants to and they will soon discuss the matter.
The Los Angeles Kings hired McLellan as their new coach a couple of days after Vigneault was snatched up by the Flyers. McLellan will be taking over a team that owned the second-worst record in the NHL this year and takes over from Willie Desjardins, who took over from the fired John Stevens who was let go earlier in the campaign.
The Kings finished the campaign with a 31-42-9 mark after winning Stanley Cups in 2011/2012 and 2013/2014. It was their worst season since 2007/08. They also had no luck in the recent NHL Draft Lottery as they slipped from second to fifth place in the pecking order.
The 51-year-old McLellan of Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada is well known to the Kings after his coaching stints with the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks. He spent seven years in San Jose from 2008 to 2015 and made the playoffs six times. He led the team to the President’s Trophy in 2008/09 and missed the playoffs in his last season with the club and was eliminated in the first round the previous year when the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings.
McLellan took over in Edmonton in 2015/16 and missed the playoffs in his first season. He made it to the second round the following season when the Oilers reached 100 points and made the playoffs for the first season since 2005/06. He was then fired last November when the Oilers started the season with a record of 9-10-1 despite the presence of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the lineup
McLellan’s regular-season record is 434-282-90 in 806 games and he went 37-38 in the playoffs. It was believed the Buffalo Sabres were also interested in hum, but he ultimately decided to stay out west. He has a lot of work to do with the rebuilding Kings as they haven’t won a postseason series in five years since winning their last Stanley Cup.
The Kings were ranked 30th in goals scored this year with 199 even though the team boasts offensive talents such as Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Ilya Kovalchuk. The team also allowed the 10th-most goals with one of the league’s best netminders in Jonathan Quick. Their penalty killing and power play were also ranked bottom five in the league
There will be a lot of debate over the coaching appointments in Philadelphia and LA. According to reports, Kings’ GM Rob Blake signed McLellan to a five-year deal worth about $5 million a season to be the 29th head coach in team history. He’s also the fourth coach in the past three years.
Vigneault was still under contract with the Rangers and the Flyers had to ask for permission to speak with him. He’s reportedly been signed to a multi-year deal as well, but will first coach Canada at the World Hockey Championships this May.