Dave Hakstol and the Developmental Dilemma

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers

Okay Philly fans, let’s step off the ledge just a little bit…or just think about Carson Wentz to calm yourself down. I understand– the Flyers aren’t good right now. The nine-game skid doesn’t make things better when you’re dead-last in the division. But it’s only November, so you can remember that. The Ducks got hot last year late to win their division after starting poorly– so there’s still hope.

And yes, I can see why you’d want your coach out because you can’t fire the players and he’s not the guy you may have wanted and he’s an unknown. But…let me put this out there and take it as it were, but hear me out.

Demote Dave Hakstol from Flyers head coach to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to coach in the AHL. 

It’s not that crazy, especially with the rave reviews that he has gotten in developing players into the Flyers’ system. The problem is that, while he can deal well with the younger talent– he has nowhere to graduate them to after the NHL level. In the NCAA, he could groom the young talent and then in four years or less– they’re out of there and a new crop of players are coming into the locker room. He still gets rave reviews from his former players and those who covered him about what he was able to do with players.

If they were to demote him to the AHL, the development aspect will still be there and it’ll give Hakstol the ability to graduate players into what the Flyers want them to be. Where you need someone to win now, as well as develop players– it’s an almost impossible task to ask for a coach; especially one who has no prior pro coaching experience. But to bump him down in to a coaching role that makes him feel comfortable and gets him back to his developmental roots maybe help him save face and help save the Flyers fans from completely going off the edge (at least in this matter).

Granted, Scott Gordon has been doing a decent job with the Phantoms– which would be a tough sell to them about turning over a coach like that. And it’s not like you can bump Gordon up because his track record in the NHL isn’t much better than what Hakstol brings to the entire table. Gordon won 48 games last year behind the Phantoms’ bench after a rough first season where they had 34 wins in 2015-16 and was one game under .500. With Gordon turning it around and maybe developing a little bit better than Hakstol could– I doubt my plan would work at all.

Dave Hakstol is a good coach with a good skill set to develop players to the next level. However, the lack of graduation there is as an NHL coach could possibly be a mental hurdle for him to be wholly successful in his gig right now. Should the Flyers pull the trigger and get rid of Hakstol, he’d be a perfect fit for another team looking for help in their development side of things.

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