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JOHN PADDOCK -- AND 56 OTHERS: YOU CAN COME HOME AGAIN

August 13, 2008, 2:21 PM ET [ Comments]
Scoop Cooper
Hockey Historian • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Item: Former Winnipeg Jets' and Ottawa Senators' head coach John Paddock named head coach of the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms for the 2008-09 season.

And with that announcement yet another former Flyer has come home again.

The actual number of players and other people who make a lifelong career in the pro hockey in North America -- coaches, scouts, managers, trainers, broadcasters, officials, etc -- is actually quite small numbering perhaps no more than a few thousand. The vast majority of pro players leave the game behind and go on to other walks of life after their playing days are over. For those who remain in pro hockey, very few spend their entire post playing career working in one single organization -- or even in the same type of job. It is not unusual, however, for many of these folks to work at one time or another for one or more of the teams that they played for, and perhaps no origanization in the game has a tradition of bringing back more former players -- often more than once -- to do this than the Philadelphia Flyers.

John Paddock is just the latest example of that tradition of returning to the Flyers both during and after his playing career. After retiring as a player in 1983 Paddock has coached or managed teams in the AHL and NHL in five organizations -- New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Winnipeg/Phoenix, and Ottawa. And by taking over the Flyers' top development club this season, the 54-year old Paddock returns to the Flyers' organization fourth time since his first stint with the club 32 years ago as a 22-year old minor league right winger.

In 1974, Paddock became just the third player ever drafted by the then first year Washington Capitals and came to the Flyers two years later on September 1, 1976, to complete a trade made the previous December which sent Bob Sirois to the Caps. Over the next four years the rough and tumble winger was a member of two Calder Cup championship Maine Mariner teams (1978 & 1979) before spending the 1979-80 season in the NHL with the Flyers. Although Paddock appeared in just 32 regular season games with the Flyers that year (scoring just three goals) and in but three Stanley Cup games that Spring, one of his two playoff goals almost brought the Flyers to the brink of a third Stanley Cup title. With the Flyers trailing the New York Islanders going into the third period of game six of the finals, 4-2, Paddock scored a goal 6:02 into the third frame to tie the game up at 4-4 and send it to overtime before Bob Nystrom's OT marker gave the Isles the first of four consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

Paddock was traded to the Quebec Nordiques that summer but spent most of the next two and a half seasons in the AHL with the Mariners until he returned to the Flyers' organization as a free agent on January 4, 1983. The following August Paddock signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils and returned to the AHL Maine Mariners which was then a Devils' farm club, but retired as a player early in that season to take over as coach of the club when then head coach Tom McVie was promoted to the Devils. Paddock captured his third Calder Cup title with the Mariners that season (his first as a coach), and after another year behind the Mariners' bench as an assistant to McVie (who returned from New jersey) Paddock rejoined the Flyers' organization for the third time as coach of the AHL Hershey Bears for the next four seasons (1985-89) winning another Calder Cup (his fourth overall, second as a coach) in 1988. Paddock then served as assistant GM of the Flyers in 1989-90 but left after that one season when GM Bob Clarke was let go.

Over the next 18 seasons Paddock coached the AHL Binghamton Rangers, NHL Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes (serving both as head coach and later GM), the AHL Hartford Wolfpack (winning a fifth Calder Cup title in 2000), the Binghamton Senators, and finally the Ottawa Senators as both an assistant coach and head coach until being let go on February 27, 2008. Paddock's return to the Flyers' organization this season for his fourth stint ironically is the result of the changes in jobs by two other coaches who together have joined the Flyers a combined total of seven times in their careers -- Terry Murray and Craig Berube.

Murray, who this season will be the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, first joined the Flyers' organization for the first time as a free agent in September, 1975, after five seasons as a defenseman in the California Golden Seals' organization. Although traded to the Detroit Red Wings in February, 1977, Murray came back to the Flyers early in the 1977-78 season to help shore up the first year AHL Maine Mariners where as a teammate of John Paddock's he also won a pair of Calder Cups in 1978 and 1979 while also being named the top defenseman in the league both seasons.

On October 5, 1981, Murray left again when he was claimed on waivers by the Washington Capitals which was then being coached by his older brother, Bryan, whom he joined behind the bench a year later as an assistant coach after one final season on the ice. Murray got his first head coaching assignment in 1988 with the AHL Baltiomore Skipjacks before replacing his brother behind the Caps' bench midway through the 1989-90 season and continued to coach that club until midway through the 1993-94 campaign.

Murray returned to the Flyers for a third time in 1994-95 as head coach and took them to the Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings in 1997. After a stint as head coach of the Florida Panthers (1998-2001) Murray returned to Philadelphia for a fourth time in 2003 as assistant coach to Ken Hitchcock and later John Stevens until leaving this summer for his fourth NHL head coaching stint with Los Angeles. With Murray's departure his spot on the Flyers' bench next to Stevens and assistant coach Jack McIlhargey was taken by former Phantoms' head coach Craig Berube -- a three time Flyer himself -- which opened up the spot for John Paddock. McIlhargey rejoined the Flyers in 2007 as an assistant after three earlier stints with the club as a player between 1974 and 1981.

All in all 57 men who have played for the Flyers have come back to the club at least once as a player or in another off ice capacity since their first playing stint. Current Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren and former GM Bob Clarke both have had multiple stints with the club both as players and managers as did head coach John Stevens. Other current members of the organization's front office and/or hockey departments (in addition to Paddock, McIlhargey, and Berube) who came back again after spending time elsewhere include Player Personnel Director Dave Brown, Head Amateur Scout Dennis Patterson, amateur scout Simon Nolet, Europen scout Ilkka Sinisalo, pro scouts Al Hill and Ross Fitzpatrick, Phantoms' assistant coaches Neil Little and Kjell Samuelsson, Player Development Coach Eric Desjardins, broadcasters Keith Jones, Chris Therien and Steve Coates (who played in the Flyers; organization twice but never for the NHL team), hockey ambassadors Bob Kelly and Gary Dornhoefer, and sales representative Joe Watson. (While Flyer goalie coach Reggie Lemelin also played in the Flyers' organization from 1974 to 1978, he never appeared in a regular season NHL game with the club before going on to a distinguished NHL career with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins from 1978 to 1993.)
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