If Flyers go with total outside-the-box surprise, how about this candidate?


Throughout May and possibly into June, we'll look at potential candidates for the Flyers' head coaching vacancy.

"We're going to sit down and try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all options open, maybe look at it from a little broader perspective," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said May 3. "Clearly we have to sit down and really drill down in terms of what we're looking for. I'm sure there will be a lot of quality candidates we'll speak to."

We've looked at Barry TrotzRick TocchetPaul MauriceJim MontgomeryJohn Tortorella and Peter DeBoer. Next up in our series is Scott Sandelin.

Why Sandelin would be a fit

Let's clarify out of the chute. We're not reporting that the Flyers have expressed interest in Sandelin.

We're simply evaluating his candidacy as a potential didn't-see-it-coming hire. And a pretty accomplished candidate at that.

Sandelin has been the head coach at Minnesota Duluth for 22 seasons. The 57-year-old has guided the Bulldogs to three national championships (2011, 2018, 2019) and six Frozen Four appearances. No coach in program history has racked up more wins than Sandelin, who is 428-348-95 and owns a 23-8 mark in the NCAA Tournament.

Sandelin also has experience at the IIHF World Junior Championship with the U.S. He has twice served as a head coach and assistant coach of the Americans. His most recent head coaching role came in 2019-20, when the U.S. had Flyers prospects Cam York and Bobby Brink. The season prior, he was an assistant for a squad that had Flyers winger Joel Farabee and prospect Noah Cates.

Cates and his older brother Jackson Cates developed under the watch of Sandelin at Minnesota Duluth. The younger Cates has gone from a 2017 fifth-round pick of the Flyers to vying for a spot in the club's lineup next season.

Development of the Flyers' younger players and instilling winning habits throughout the roster are two ways in which Sandelin could be really effective.

Sandelin, a native of Hibbing, Minnesota, has experience in the organization. He played 15 games for the Flyers in 1990-91 and was a teammate of player development coach Kjell Samuelsson. That club was coached by Flyers Hall of Famer Paul Holmgren, who is now a senior advisor for the organization.

Why Sandelin would not be a fit

The Flyers are not in a position to take a serious gamble. They've missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. Over those two playoff-less campaigns, the Flyers have surrendered 3.56 goals per game, a mark that is tied for worst in the league.

The situation screams for experience. Sandelin would be a considerable risk given he has never coached at the NHL level in any capacity. It would be a tough sell for Fletcher to the fan base and even his boss Dave Scott, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor.

The Flyers are in a pressure-packed spot and market. It's fair to question how Sandelin would handle it as a rookie NHL bench boss.

Coaching styles and philosophies don't always scale each level, which would be a concern, as well.

If the Flyers did have interest in Sandelin, it's possible the interest wouldn't be mutual. Sandelin's life is in Minnesota and he has been highly successful leading the Bulldogs for 22 seasons. If he's happy staying in his position as one of the better college coaches in the game, nobody would blame him.

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