NHL

Alain Vigneault out as Flyers head coach

Alain Vigneault Flyers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head coach Alain Vigneault just 22 games into the 2021-22 season, according to multiple reports Monday.

The call comes amid a Flyers eight-game losing streak, punctuated by an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.

Assistant coach Michel Therrien was also shown the door, prompting the Flyers to promote fellow assistant Mike Yeo as interim head coach.

Vigneault lasted two-plus seasons at the helm of the Flyers, going 74-54-19 during that span — though the team has regressed over each year.

Upon his debut, Vigneault and the Flyers exceeded expectations to finish second in the Metropolitan Division before the COVID-19 pause. Upon the round-robin restart in the Toronto bubble, Philadelphia won the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference before falling to the New York Islanders in seven games in the second round.

Looking to make the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time since 2008-2012, the Flyers were one of the largest disappointments in the NHL as they finished sixth out of eight teams in the COVID-created Eastern Division.

After starting this season 8-4-2, the Flyers’ eight-game losing streak has sunk them to seventh out of eight teams in the Metropolitan Division — ahead of only a fledgling Islanders team that has lost 11 straight games fueled by injuries and COVID-19 sapping more than half of their lineup.

“The first 10 games, we didn’t have the puck as much as I’d like. We were defending too much,” Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said. “But I saw a lot of positive signs. Before this eight-game streak, we were in a playoff spot. We weren’t playing perfectly, but we were a decent team that needed to get better.

“Now we’ve just completely lost our way.”

They are already 13 points out of the third-place spot in the Metropolitan, which is a poor start for a team that made plenty of tweaks during the offseason.

In hopes of taking that next step toward consistent playoff contention, general manager Chuck Fletcher overhauled the blue line by bringing in defensemen Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Risotlainen, and Keith Yandle. He also acquired Martin Jones to back up Carter Hart while swapping veteran forward Jake Voracek for Cam Atkinson.

This is the shortest head-coaching stint of Vigneault’s 19-year coaching career that featured seven seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and five with the New York Rangers. He won a conference title with each of those teams during his stay and took home the Jack Adams Award — given to the NHL’s best coach — for the 2006-07 season while with Vancouver.

Yeo, who will take over for Vigneault, has been a head coach for parts of eight seasons in the NHL. In five seasons with the Minnesota Wild, he made the playoffs three times before leading the St. Louis Blues for two-plus seasons.

After starting 7-9-3 in 2018-19, the Blues fired Yeo and brought on Craig Berube, who ultimately led the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup title later that season.

The 48-year-old owns a career head-coaching record of 173-132-44.

“I was hoping to buy some time here to allow this group to get out all the pieces, get guys going,” Fletcher said. “But whether the timing is right or wrong, this is the decision I’ve made here today. This is where we’re at.”

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