Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a press release that the team needed a “new voice moving forward” and thanked Paterson for his commitment and dedication to the team. Paterson had been the coach since December 2010 and managed a 37-35-2-2 record this season before finishing five points shy of the final Eastern Conference berth in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. A former member of the Flyers, Paterson lasted 125 games total as the head coach of the Phantoms and went 62-55-8 over the course of a season and a half with the club.
Paterson’s dismissal may come as a bit of a surprise to some Adirondack fans who know how difficult the season could have been. Despite a less than stellar roster, and numerous players called up to the NHL during the season, they fought hard to finish just shy of a playoff berth.
Along with having logged ice time for the Flyers in the past, Paterson has ties locally, playing 169 games as a member of the now-defunct Adirondack Red Wings. His firing becomes a bit questionable, and even surprising, once you start to look at how Philadelphia operates their farm system.
Philadelphia doesn’t seem to use their minor league affiliates as a place to develop young talent as much as a roster to store potential fourth-line injury replacements. The fact that three of the Phantoms top four scoring players are signed to AHL-only contracts - meaning they cannot be called up to the NHL - serves to further support that theory. The only exception is the Phantom’s leading scorer, Jason Akeson (not counting Matthew Ford, who had 59 points between stints with Hershey and Adirondack this season.) In fact, only five players on the current roster were drafted by Philadelphia to begin with.
Another factor to consider regarding Paterson’s level of coaching can be found in the praise both Holmgren and Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette had for Phantoms players who were called up to the big league level and how well they seemed to be prepared for the transition. Left wing Eric Wellwood even managed to tally five goals and four assists in just 25 games after being called up to Philadelphia, and he played well despite not scoring a point during 11 playoff games.
Paterson had been able to manage a respectable record despite the Flyers cherry-picking their best players. Die-hard hockey fans can tell you when teams overachieve despite inferior talent, the accolades typically end up supporting the idea of strong coaching. Instead of praise, Paterson was rewarded by being fired. The Flyers have not immediately announced who will replace Paterson.