The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Assistant Coach Wayne Fleming has resigned his position, according to club General Manager Bob Clarke. Philadelphia Phantoms Head Coach John Stevens was named an assistant coach for the Flyers to replace Fleming.
"Wayne (Fleming) has made the decision that he is not going to come back to the Flyers next year," said Clarke in making the announcement. "He obviously did a real good job for us. Whatever he decides to do we wish him the best. We are going to replace Wayne with John Stevens. We think that this is the last step in John's progress to become an NHL head coach. He is certainly qualified to help the Flyers and this will give him NHL experience. Someday he will be a really good NHL head coach."
"John (Stevens) has really established himself as a premier coach in the American Hockey League," said Flyers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "This is a great step for the organization and for John. It shows a real trust that the Flyers have in their own people. I'm really proud that we didn't look elsewhere in replacing Wayne (Fleming). Wayne is a terrific coach and personally a great friend. I wish him all the luck, as does the organization, in whatever his endeavors are going to be. But for us, John is a great addition. He has passion for the game. He has strong technical knowledge and I think his greatest strength is that he knows what it feels and looks like when you are a cohesive, tight team. Hopefully, we can help him in becoming a better coach and I know he is going to help me improve in some areas that I want to see improvement, not only in our team, but in my own personal coaching philosophy. He brings a freshness and excitement to our staff and we are looking forward to this."
"Obviously, it is a big thrill for me to continue to be a part of this organization," said Stevens. "I have worked from the ground up as a minor league player, then as an assistant coach, then head coach in the American Hockey League. I look forward to continue to work alongside Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren and to have the opportunity to work with Ken Hitchcock and Terry Murray. This opportunity was very appealing to me. They are great coaches with a lot of experience and are as dedicated to winning as anybody. I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity."
Stevens, 40, was the Phantoms' head coach for the past six seasons (2000-01 through 2005-06) and led the team to the Calder Cup Championship in 2005. This past season, the Phantoms posted a 34-37-2-7 record for 77 points and finished sixth in the East Division of the AHL's Eastern Conference. Stevens' career coaching record is 230-181-33-25 in 480 regular season games, not including 11 shootout losses. He has a 29-19 record in 48 career playoff games.
He was named the second-ever head coach of the Flyers' AHL affiliate on June 8, 2000. His 480 games coached and 230 career wins are the most in Phantoms history. He was named an assistant coach for the Phantoms on February 10, 1999, after announcing his retirement from hockey due to an eye injury.
A native of Campbellton, New Brunswick, Stevens played 15 seasons of professional hockey as a defenseman (1984-85 to 1998-99), including 53 NHL games with the Flyers and Hartford Whalers. Over parts of five seasons (1986-87 and 1987-88 with the Flyers and 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1993-94 with Hartford), Stevens recorded 10 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 53 games. In 834 career AHL games over 14 seasons with the Hershey Bears (1984-85 and 1986-87 through 1989-90), Springfield Indians/Falcons (1990-91 through 1995-96) and the Phantoms (1996-97 to 1998-99), Stevens registered 21 goals and 167 assists for 188 points and 1,399 penalty minutes. He was a member of three Calder Cup Championship teams as a player (Hershey – 1988, Springfield – 1991 and Philadelphia – 1998) and won the Barry Ashbee Award as the Phantoms' top defenseman for the 1996-97 season. He was named the Phantoms' first-ever captain on October 1, 1996. Stevens was originally drafted from the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League by the Flyers in the third round (47th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
Stevens and his wife, Stacy, have two sons, John and Nolan.
"This was not an easy decision," said Fleming. "The respect that I have for Mr. Snider, Bob Clarke, Paul Holmgren, Ken Hitchcock, Terry Murray and the entire organization is tremendous. When the season ended, I started to look at where I was going in my personal development and my enhancement. There are some things that I want to pursue in a variety of areas. Bob did offer me another two-year extension, which I was thrilled about and really honored to have. It was not a decision that was arrived overnight. It was one that Bob and I discussed over a period of time and his support was just tremendous. I have nothing but admiration and total respect for Bob Clarke and the entire organization."
Fleming, 55, completed his third season as a Flyers assistant coach this past season. In addition to his role with the Flyers, Fleming also served as an associate coach for Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey Team at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. He was named an assistant coach for the Flyers on May 30, 2002, after serving as the vice president of hockey and head coach for the National Men's Team for the Canadian Hockey Association. In this role, he served as head coach of the Canadian National Men's Team at the 2001 and the 2002 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Tournament. Fleming also served as an associate coach for Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey Team, which captured the gold medal at 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and for Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
In addition to his international coaching experience, Fleming has National Hockey League experience as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes during the 1999-2000 season and with the New York Islanders for two seasons (1997-98 and 1998-99). Prior to joining the Islanders, he coached Kloten in the Swiss Elite League during the 1996-97 season and spent four seasons coaching Leksand in the Swedish Elite League (1992-93 through 1995-96).
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Fleming served as an assistant coach and general manager of the Canadian National Olympic Program for two years (1990 to 1992) and was a member of the coaching staff that led the Canadian National Men's Team to a silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France.
Fleming was the head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons for nine seasons (1980-81 through 1986-87, 1988-89 and 1989-90). He led the Bisons to two Great Plains Athletic Conference Championships (1983-84 and 1984-85) and won the Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union Coach of the Year for the 1984-85 season. His career coaching record at the University of Manitoba is 140-78-14 in 232 regular season games for a .634 winning percentage.
Wayne and his wife, Carolyn, have two daughters, Angie and Allie, and two sons, Jarett and Jordan.