Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flyers, Holmgren agree to three-year extension

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

The Philadelphia Flyers and general manager Paul Holmgren agreed to a three-year contract extension on Tuesday, outfoxing earlier reports that the pact would be announced on Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Delaware County Times reported earlier in the day that it will be worth approximately $4.5 million. Holmgren's current contract was set to expire at the conclusion of the current campaign.

"I'm particularly proud of the job Paul Holmgren has done with our hockey club and excited to offer him this three-year extension," said chairman Ed Snider. "He continuously finds the right opportunities to improve our team and gets us closer to our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup."

Holmgren took over the GM role during an organizational shakeup on October 22, 2006 when Bob Clarke resigned and head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired after the Flyers got off to a rocky 1-6-1 start. That season saw the club struggle to a franchise and NHL-worst 22-48-12 record, but under his tutelage the team has become a Stanley Cup contender.

Despite being a seventh-seed in the playoffs last season, Philadelphia advanced to the Cup Finals for the first time since 1997 and made it to Game 6 before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks. The playoff run also saw the club become just the third in NHL history to rally from a three-games-to-none series deficit to defeat Boston in seven games in the conference semifinals.

Entering Tuesday's action, the Flyers sit atop the Eastern Conference with 63 points and, despite not having a player in the top-20 in points, lead the conference in scoring. Only Vancouver (29-10-6) boasts a better overall record in the NHL heading into a home game against the Washington Capitals.

"I am extremely grateful to Mr. Snider and (Comcast-Spectacor president) Peter Luukko for this contract extension," Holmgren stated. "I look forward to working closely with them, the coaches and our players in pursuit of our goal of winning the Stanley Cup."

Holmgren was a rough-and-tumble Flyers winger from 1975-84, an assistant coach under Mike Keenan from 1985-88, then the club's head coach from the start of the 1988-89 season through December, 1991. In a down period for the franchise, he guided the club to a record of 107-126-31 in four seasons which included a memorable run to the Wales Conference finals in 1989.

The native of St. Paul, Minnesota was a sixth-round pick by the Flyers in 1975 draft. After a brief stint in the World Hockey Association, he played in 500 games over parts of nine seasons for the franchise and posted 138 goals with 171 assists for 309 points. His 1,600 penalty minutes rank second to Rick Tocchet in club history.

Holmgren finished his playing career with the Minnesota North Stars, recording a total of 144 goals and 179 assists for 323 points in 527 games. Despite a reputation as a feared enforcer during his playing days, he became the first American-born player to record a hat trick in a Stanley Cup Final game, doing so in 1980 when the Flyers fell to the New York Islanders.

The 55-year-old also coached the Hartford Whalers in parts of four seasons from 1992-93 to '95-96, serving as general manager for part of the tenure, and compiled a coaching record of 59-93-14.

He was named assistant general manager with the Flyers in June, 1999 and served in that capacity until he was elevated to his current post.

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