Wednesday, June 03, 2015

If Terry Murray leaves, who can lead the Phantoms?

Terry Murray, if anything, was most adamant in his post-game comments following the Phantoms' April 19 season-concluding loss on the subject of returning to the National Hockey League.

He'll be 65 years old in July, and while, in this business, it's not exactly retirement age, you can see why he'd want to get one last shot and one last job before thinking about stepping away from the bench for good.

With the Flyers organization, there is a spot which most likely suits his needs: assistant to new head coach Dave Hakstol. Murray, who has spent the last three seasons shepherding the Phantoms through Glens Falls and Allentown in his third separate coaching stint with the franchise, would be the most obvious candidate for Ron Hextall.

He'd already served as a mentor for John Stevens when he was elevated to the post in October of 2006 through the end of the 2007-08 season and another relocation -- though this one just one hour and 60 miles as opposed to four hours and 200 miles -- would be welcome for the hockey lifer.

If Murray leaves for another organization, he'll do so as the longest-tenured Phantoms head coach since the franchise was uprooted from Philadelphia in 2009; since then, there have been four men to lead the prospects. The AHL club saw five ex-Flyers behind their bench in their first 13 years of existence.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of those who could conceivably find themselves as Murray's replacement.

Ian Laperriere: If Hextall believes Gord Murphy has a grip on his assistantship with the Flyers covering the defense and Murray is tabbed to be elevated, that means Lappy stands a prime chance for reassignment. Having worked for and with the organization over the last six years, including two as an NHL assistant, it would be a great way to give him a concrete position and a great way to introduce him to greater responsibility. Plus, at age 41-42, his temperament might be at the right point to guide and develop talent in the minors: just far enough removed from his playing days and not quite the ancient disciplinarian.

Riley Cote: The immediate, if not logical, successor to Murray. He's been an assistant with the Phantoms for the last five seasons and has had to deal with the turmoil of head coaching and roster turnover along with half a decade of weekend 3-in-3s. Nonetheless, you'd have to have some reservations with the choice, since, like, Craig Berube, the 33-year-old has played the "loyal soldier" role. If Hextall had to can Chief in favor of someone with more intelligence along with the work ethic, then Cote might have to perform a philosophical overhaul to gain confidence he could take the step forward.

Benoit Groulx: Named a sleeper pick by the czar of Flyers bloggers not too long ago to be considered for the position Dave Hakstol was granted, the 47-year-old Quebec native is best known for his tenure in Gatineau in the QMJHL -- where he coached Claude Giroux -- as well as the Under-20 Canadian national squad. His lone professional experience was limited to two seasons (2008-10) as bench boss for the AHL's Rochester Americans before returning to juniors. Still, with three league championships in 12 years presiding over youth, the itch to break free again might still exist. A popular choice to be elevated because of "deserved" success.

Mike Stothers: The AHL's Coach of the Year selection as leader of the Manchester Monarchs is awaiting a Calder Cup Finals matchup with the Utica Comets. The 53-year-old former journeyman blueliner literally earned his stripes as a player, by being hit in the forehead with a shot in his NHL debut for Mike Keenan back in December of '84. Since that inauspicious beginning, he spent several seasons as an assistant (during the first four years of Bill Barber's tenure with the Phantoms from 1996-2000 and then 2000-02 with the Flyers). Stothers has been away since that point, stopping in the OHL (Owen Sound) and WHL (Moose Jaw) and back to the AHL (Grand Rapids) alongside one season with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Mark Morris: Why would a guy who paid his dues in both Division I and the AHL, only to find an assistant spot in the NHL (Florida), want to head back down the ladder? Hextall knows him from his eight years leading Manchester and he can be very persuasive, as he was to net Hakstol. Morris, 57, was a defenseman at Colgate and an assistant at St. Lawrence before a successful tenure at Clarkson from 1988-2002 was cut short by a grievous error in judgment. His career was revived in 2006, and he was responsible for shepherding key players of the Kings' two Stanley Cup winners from there. The Phantoms will need a sure and experienced hand over the next several seasons with the glut of picks accumulated in this year's draft alongside the club's current projects.

Sam Carchidi's Dream Information

Last Wednesday, the Philadelphia Flyers marked 40 years since their second and final Stanley Cup title, a six-game triumph over the Buffalo Sabres which ended their back-to-back dominance of the NHL.

In the interim, dynasties have risen and fallen and expansion has increased the number of clubs from 18 to 30, giving those players jettisoned by Philadelphia's front office ample chance to catch on and win a title elsewhere.

Since May 27, 1975, the following players who once donned the Orange and Black for at least a few games saw their name etched on the Stanley Cup under the banner of their future teams:

Ken Linseman  (1984, Edmonton Oilers)
Brad McCrimmon (1989, Calgary Flames)
Gordie Roberts (1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins)
Rick Tocchet (1992 Pittsburgh Penguins)
Kjell Samuelsson (1992 Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ken Wregget (1992 Pittsburgh Penguins)
J.J. Daigneault (1993 Montreal Canadiens)
Mike Ricci (1996 Colorado Avalanche)
Shjon Podein (2001 Colorado Avalanche)
Steve Duchesne (2002 Detroit Red Wings)
Ruslan Fedotenko (2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins)
Darren Rumble (2004 Tampa Bay Lightning)
Mark Recchi (2006 Carolina Hurricanes; 2011 Boston Bruins)
Rod Brind'Amour (2006 Carolina Hurricanes)
Justin Williams (2006 Carolina Hurricanes, 2012, 2014 Los Angeles Kings)
Mark Eaton (2009 Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ben Eager (2010 Chicago Blackhawks)

Patrick Sharp (2010, 2013, 2015 Chicago Blackhawks)
Dennis Seidenberg (2011 Boston Bruins)
Simon Gagne (2012 Los Angeles Kings)
Jeff Carter (2012, 2014 Los Angeles Kings)
Mike Richards (2012, 2014 Los Angeles Kings)
Daniel Carcillo (2013 Chicago Blackhawks)
Michal Handzus (2013 Chicago Blackhawks)
Kimmo Timonen (2015 Chicago Blackhawks)

And continuing with the list, the following ex-players have their names inscribed as either coaches or front office personnel. NB Terry Murray, fired by the Kings in-season but who remained with the team as a scout, was left off the Cup in 2012 due to the 52-name limit:

Terry Crisp (1989 Calgary Flames)
Mark Howe (1997-98, 2002, 2008 Detroit Red Wings)
Rick St. Croix (1999 Dallas Stars)
Bob Hoffmeyer (2000, 2003 New Jersey Devils)
Bill Barber (2004 Tampa Bay Lightning)
Kevin McCarthy (2006 Carolina Hurricanes)
Ron Hextall (2012 Los Angeles Kings)
Kevin Dineen (2015 Chicago Blackhawks)

More Ex-Flyer Stanley Cup connections

This year's Cup Finals feature a trio of former Flyers, each looking for their first title victory: Kimmo Timonen (Chicago), Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn  (Tampa Bay). All three skated the blueline for Peter Laviolette five years back against Chicago in a six-game loss we may have to store in our memory banks for quite a while.

While battle lines are being drawn amongst Flyer fandom over which of the three deserves it most, or who should be supported most -- Timonen probably gets the nod under both criteria -- this is not close to critical ex-Flyer mass in a given Cup Finals.

That distinction goes to the 1996 series between the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers, won by the Avs in a four-game sweep. On Marc Crawford's ex-Nordiques were: Ricci, Peter Forsberg and Chris Simon. Doug MacLean's Sun Belt warriors featured Scott Mellanby, Gord Murphy and Terry Carkner.

Forsberg (#6, 1991) and Simon (#25, 1990) were both draft picks by Russ Farwell but never played a game for the club the first time around, part of the package which snared Eric Lindros. Ricci scored 97 points in 146 games but the Flyers never reached the postseason in either of his first two NHL seasons. 

Mellanby was dealt to the Oilers in May of 1991 and then claimed in the expansion draft by Florida in 1993. Murphy was passed to Boston in January of 1992 then shifted to Dallas briefly before the Panthers claimed him in the same expansion draft, while Carkner landed in Detroit for Yves Racine in '93 and then signed as a free agent in '95 by the Cats.

Son of Primeau Commits to Division I program

The connections between the Philadelphia Flyers and American college hockey strengthened on Wednesday morning, with reports out of Buffalo that Chayse Primeau -- son of former Flyers captain Keith -- has committed to Canisius College. It doesn't end there ... Primeau the younger's uncle is Derrick Smith, a gritty winger who played here from 1984-91.

The younger Primeau skated for Bishop Eustace Prep under the guidance of his father. A 17-year-old winger, he totaled 24 goals and 10 assists in 16 games last season for the Camden County-based program.

He'll join the progeny of another long-time NHL star, Daniel LaFontaine, next season as verbal commits to the Atlantic Hockey Association program.

The Griffins finished last season with an 18-12-7 overall record and 15-7-6 in-conference mark, second only to Robert Morris. They lost to eventual playoff champion and NCAA entrant RIT in the AHA postseason.

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