VOORHEES, N.J. – When camp opened Sunday, seeing John Paddock on the ice with the Flyers for practice seemed to many to be an all-hands-on deck kind coaching situation.
With camp being so short, an extra set of eyes or another person providing instruction would be a nice addition.
Then word seeped out Monday, when Paddock took the ice with the team again, that this wasn’t just a training camp scenario.
Paddock, at the behest of general manager Paul Holmgren, has relinquished his duties as assistant general manager and is now a full-time assistant coach with the team.
“We started talking about this at the end of the playoffs last year,” Holmgren said. “John’s a career coach who’s had success at every level. When you have a guy like that on your staff in the role he’s been in… He has a good relationship with [coach Peter Laviolette]. He coached Lavvy. He has a good relationship with [assistant coach Kevin McCarthy they worked together. He has a good relationship with [assistant coach Craig Berube] he has a good relationship with [assistant coach] Joey [Mullen] … He’s just a knowledgeable guy. We weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to add a guy like that to our staff.”
For his part, Paddock said he was on board with the move, but that it wasn’t his idea.
“I had grown to be accustomed to/like/be comfortable with assisting Paul and spending time in Glens Falls [with the Phantoms],” Paddock said. “But at the same time, this is something I’ve spent more time with and am more comfortable with whatever it entails.”
Paddock, 58, a former head coach with the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators, will be an “eye in the sky” for the Flyers during games, sitting in the coaches box with Mullen and goalie coach Jeff Reese communicating with the coaches on the bench and he’ll also meet with the coaches downstairs between periods.
“We are trying to give our players the best chance to improve and get better,” Holmgren said. “With John in the capacity he’s in now gives us an advantage.”
Meanwhile, Holmgren said there were no plans to replace Paddock as the assistant G.M.
He said for now, the responsibilities Paddock had day-to-day would be absorbed by Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor and Director of Player Development Ian Laperriere.
As for overseeing the Phantoms, Holmgren said that a tag-team effort of himself, Pryor, Laperriere, Director of Player Personnel Dave Brown and scout Neil Little would work just fine, but even more so, having Terry Murray in place as the coach negates the necessity to have someone there on a regular basis keeping an eye on things.
“Having Murray there is a big advantage for us as far as overseeing the team is concerned,” Holmgren said. “He’s been a round a long time and knows what is needed for those players to make it to the NHL. I’m really comfortable having him there and believe he can almost handle both coaching and managing himself.”
Meanwhile, Paddock will serve as a benefit not only to the players on the team, but the coaching staff as well. As a matter of fact, he coached Laviolette in the AHL with the Binghamton Rangers for one season in 1991.
“If you sit around and talk to John Paddock long enough he’s got a real good understanding of the game, both offensive and defensive,” Holmgren said. “At this level, it’s a difficult business. A different set of eyes sometimes changes the way you look at things. The relationships all those guys have was the key to this.
“Obviously with the knowledge John has as a coach is another part of it. I wouldn’t have risked putting another guy who didn’t have that relationship in that position. This is a seamless move for John and the coaches. There are no issues, no egos involved. The idea is to make the Flyers better and win a championship and I think we have good staff.”
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