Greg Gilbert won’t get a chance to turn around the reeling Adirondack Phantoms.
Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren fired Gilbert as coach of the Phantoms in a meeting Monday evening. The official announcement came in a conference call at 8:45 p.m.
Holmgren named former Philadelphia Phantoms coach John Paddock as the interim head coach. Paddock retains his duties as Assistant General Manager of the Flyers.
Joe Paterson, a former Adirondack Red Wings player and assistant coach, will come on as an assistant. Riley Cote remains an assistant.
“It just got to the point where I believed we needed to do something to stop the bleeding,” Holmgren said. “I believe Greg’s a good coach and I know he’s a good guy. I feel bad about this. But we needed to try something to change it around and get the team playing at a higher level. We believe they can.”
Reached by phone late Monday night, Gilbert declined comment.
The Phantoms have lost nine straight games and are 2-10-1-0 through 13 games. They have five points, the fewest total in the American Hockey League. They’ve scored the fewest goals per game of any team in the league.
Paddock, who was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame last season, coached the Phantoms for one season, their last in Philadelphia, reaching the playoffs before losing in the first round. Paddock then accepted a promotion to the Flyers front office to take a role in charge of development. Gilbert was named the first head coach of the Adirondack Phantoms in July of 2009.
Paddock is the only coach in AHL history to lead three franchises to a Calder Cup championship. He has a career record of 585-424-98 over 15 seasons as a head coach in the AHL, and his 585 wins and 1,107 games coached both rank third in AHL history. Paddock is also the AHL’s all-time winningest playoff coach with 82 postseason victories.
“I’m not sure they’re going to play any different style, but it’s going to be a different voice behind the bench,” Holmgren said. “Maybe a different style in the locker room, a different style in one-on-one meetings.”
Holmgren said he approached Paddock about taking the job two days ago and that Paddock will remain coach for a few months to “see how it goes." Paddock begins Wednesday.
Holmgren was in town Oct. 29 and 30 to handle the dismissal of Pat Maroon from the Phantoms. In an interview with The Post-Star that weekend, Holmgren gave Gilbert a vote of confidence, saying he was “absolutely” satisfied with the job he was doing.
Holmgren said Monday that he didn’t tell Gilbert then that his job was in jeopardy.
“I can probably say I’ve been thinking about it for a little while. But I’m not sure,” Holmgren said. “The Patrick Maroon thing doesn’t have anything to do with the Greg Gilbert thing. I think they’re separate.”
Gilbert went 34-51-4-4 in 91 games with the Phantoms. He spent the previous three years as coach of the Toronto Marlies. His contract wasn’t renewed when Toronto hired a new general manager. Gilbert was also the head coach for parts of three seasons in Calgary in the NHL and began his coaching career with four seasons in Worcester.
Gilbert was the sixth coach in Phantoms history. His tenure is the third shortest.
Holmgren said the losing streak and the need to shake things up were the biggest factors in the decision. He informed the players during an 8 p.m. meeting at the Civic Center.
“Greg Gilbert did not do a poor job. I think more than anything, and I told this to the players tonight, we all had a hand in it. Everyone of us in this room,” Holmgren said. “And I was speaking to the players. Now, it’s up to each of us to move forward and figure out what we’re going to do as individuals and collectively over the next little while to get out of it. That’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Paterson played parts of four seasons with the Adirondack Red Wings between 1980-84. He was an assistant coach for the Red Wings between 1992-1994.
He also has ties to the Flyers, playing four seasons in the Philadelphia organization. Paterson was an assistant coach to Gilbert for three seasons in Toronto and interviewed for the Phantoms head coaching position that ultimately went to Gilbert.
“We know Joe, and I think Joe too is a career coach, and his experience will help now with the situation we’re in,” Holmgren said.