Knoblauch an Ambitious Assistant Coach

It took less than an hour and a half for Elliotte Friedman’s report that the Flyers were considering Kris Knoblauch for an assistant coaching position to be officially confirmed. The, now former, Erie Otters head coach will join the Flyers coaching staff in place of Joe Mullen who was let go back in April.

With Mullen out, the Flyers are in need of someone to run the power play, under Knoblauch, the Erie Otters had the number two power play in the OHL. Besides his team’s excellent power play numbers, Knoblauch has worked with skilled young players like Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, and Alex DeBrincat and coached the Otters to four straight 50-win seasons. His biggest job will be to make the second power play unit which has been a mystery. No combination has made that a successful unit yet so it will be interesting to see what changes Knoblauch can implement to make them a viable threat.

“Kris has had great success at the junior level with the Erie Otters and Kootenay Ice,” Hextall said in a press release. “He’s coached a lot of good young offensive gifted players. We feel he is a real good fit with our group and we’re excited to have him in our organization.” –

In adding another young up-and-coming coach to the staff, Hextall seems to be trying to build an environment catered to all of the young prospects coming into the organization and helping them develop at the NHL level. If Dave Hakstol can go back to doing what made him successful in his first season with the Flyers, Philly will be an encouraging environment for the stacked prospect pool.

In an article by The Edmonton Journal posted just a few weeks ago, TSN analyst Craig Button praised Knoblauch as a coach.

“Watch how his teams play, his kids play smart, he maximizes their abilities and yet I keep hearing … ‘you know, he might not be the greatest interview (for pro jobs).’ The interview should be how his teams play. Four 50-win seasons in a row and very successful in the Western League before that. He can flat-out coach. He’s adaptable, he knows how to make adjustments as the game’s going on. He’s a great developer and bench coach.”

The Otters head coach was expected to be looking at a possible move to the AHL as the next logical step up, and Knoblauch was looking for options to move up this season. He could have easily been a candidate for the head coaching gig for the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate.

“I hope to get some interviews this summer, whether somebody likes me or not … I’ve been here for 4-1/2 seasons, and I’m ready to make the step (to pro),” said Knoblauch. “Before, I’d say I could take it or leave it. Now, I’d love to go on (pro).”

But it seems like Knoblauch won’t be happy with being an assistant coach for an extended amount of time. Knoblauch lost his previous job as head coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice because he went on an interview for another head coaching job without their permission. It didn’t take long for him to land an OHL head coaching job. Like he said in the quote above, he’s spent four and a half season coaching the Otters and was ready to climb the ladder again.

In a few seasons, he may be ready to move on and become an NHL head coach. Or if Dave Hakstol can’t figure out that Travis Konecny is better than Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, maybe Knoblauch takes over behind the Flyers bench. Knoblauch’s ambition could be used to pressure Hakstol into smarter decisions as Broad Street Hockey suggests.

“It might not matter if Hextall truly believes Knoblauch is going to make the team better. But just as the Flyers hiring Hextall as assistant general manager in 2013 put pressure on then-GM Paul Holmgren, the same pressure exists with this coaching move. Maybe it’s even Hextall’s intention. Guess we’ll find out.”

Whether he’s here to scare Dave Hakstol into shape or simply to help guide the prospects as they transition into the NHL, Knoblauch is a strong addition to the Flyers coaching staff.


Former Flyers coach Craig Berube is getting around lately. He’s recently had interviews with the Buffalo Sabers and the Florida Pathers, two teams in need of a head coach.

Berube is currently the head coach of the Chicago Wolves in the AHL which apparently means he’s being looked at for an associate coaching position alongside Mike Yeo in St. Louis.

It might be interesting to see if Berube learned anything from his time as bench boss in Philly, mostly because another team will have to deal with him.


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