Paul Holmgren

Paul Howard Holmgren (born December 2, 1955) is an American former professional ice hockey player and former general manager and President of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He is currently a Senior Advisor to Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO and Governor of the Flyers. He played 10 NHL seasons for the Flyers and Minnesota North Stars. After his playing career ended he moved into coaching, serving as head coach of the Flyers and Hartford Whalers, and later went into management.

Paul Holmgren
Born (1955-12-02) December 2, 1955
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Minnesota Fighting Saints
Philadelphia Flyers
Minnesota North Stars
National team  United States
NHL Draft 108th overall, 1975
Philadelphia Flyers
WHA Draft 67th overall, 1974
Edmonton Oilers
Playing career 19751985

Holmgren is a resident of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey and of the Jersey Shore community of Avalon.[1][2]

Early life

Paul Holmgren began skating as early as age two thanks to his dad who flooded the empty lot next to their house in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his older brother Mark began playing organized hockey at age six. He skated for St. Paul Harding High School and played in the legendary Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. When his schoolboy days were over, he played a year of junior hockey with the St. Paul Vulcans of the Midwest Junior Hockey League in 1973-74 and was then selected to be part of the US junior national team to compete in the 1974 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Leningrad.[3]

Playing career

Holmgren was selected by the Edmonton Oilers 67th overall in the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft. He never played for Edmonton as his WHA rights were traded to the Minnesota Fighting Saints. A year later he was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers 108th overall in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft. He began his professional career with the Fighting Saints in 1975–76, but left the team on February 28, 1976, three days before it folded because of financial problems. He signed with the Flyers shortly after and made his NHL debut a month later where he got a chance to play with his childhood role model Gary Dornhoefer. Holmgren's hectic first professional season nearly ended in tragic fashion. While playing for the Richmond Robins, the Flyers AHL affiliate at the time, he suffered a scratched cornea. He was rushed to surgery in a Boston hospital and an allergic reaction to the anesthetic nearly cost him his life.

Holmgren spent the next eight seasons in Philadelphia and was annually among the team's leaders in penalty minutes and was also able to contribute offense. He posted career highs in goals (30) and points (65) in 1979–80 and added 10 goals and 10 assists during the Flyers playoff run. His three goals in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals was the first time a U.S.-born player scored a hat trick in a Cup Finals game. The next season, he was invited to the 1981 NHL All-Star Game and also the United States 1981 Canada Cup team (he separated his shoulder at Team USA's Canada Cup training camp in August 1981 and missed the tournament itself as well as the start of the 1981–82 NHL season). Holmgren was traded to the Minnesota North Stars mid-way through 1983–84. He left Philly with 1,600 penalty minutes, the most in Flyers franchise history up until Rick Tocchet broke the record during the 1991–92 season. He only played 27 regular season and 15 playoff games with the North Stars as he retired after the 1984–85 season. Holmgren is also known for his punch to the chest of referee Andy Van Hellemond in 1981, which initiated major changes to the rule regarding physical abuse of on ice officials in the NHL.[4][5]

Coaching/management career

Holmgren immediately moved into coaching upon retiring, becoming an Assistant Coach with the Flyers under second-year coach Mike Keenan. After Keenan was fired following the 1987–88 season, Holmgren became the first former Flyer to be named the team's Head Coach. During his first season as coach the Flyers made an unexpected run to the Wales Conference Finals before bowing out to the Montreal Canadiens in six games. This playoff run included an improbable 4 games to 3 second-round victory over Mario Lemieux's Pittsburgh Penguins; with the clincher coming on the road in a thrilling game 7. The team missed the playoffs the next two seasons, however, and midway through his fourth season as coach he was fired.

On June 15, 1992, Holmgren was named Head Coach of the Hartford Whalers.[6] When Brian Burke left the Whalers in September 1993, Holmgren assumed the position of General Manager as well. On November 16, 1994, Holmgren stepped aside as head coach due to frustration with a lack of effort from his players and a desire to focus on his role as the team's general manager.[7] He was succeeded by assistant general manager Pierre McGuire. On March 30, 1994, Holmgren was arrested after driving drunk in Simsbury, Connecticut. He entered the Betty Ford Center for treatment. Whalers owner Richard Gordon was going to fire Holmgren, however he changed his mind after conversations with Holmgren's counselor at the Betty Ford Center, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr.[8] After McGuire was fired May 1994, Holmgren returned as head coach. When the team was purchased by Peter Karmanos, Jim Rutherford was named general manager. However, Rutherford and Karmanos asked Holmgren to stay on as head coach.[9] On November 6, 1995, Holmgren was fired and replaced by assistant coach and former Detroit Junior Red Wings head coach Paul Maurice. At the time of his dismissal, the Whalers had won only one of its last eight games after starting out the season 4–0.[10]

He returned to Philadelphia during the 1995–96 season as the Director of Pro Scouting. He was named the Director of Player Personnel following the 1996–97 season and was named Assistant General Manager following the 1998–99 season. He served in that position under General Manager Bobby Clarke until Clarke resigned a month into the 2006–07 season, at which time Holmgren was named General Manager of the club.

On May 7, 2014, Holmgren was promoted to President of the Flyers and Ron Hextall was named to replace him as the club's seventh General Manager.[11] On September 16, 2014, the NHL announced that Holmgren was named one of two 2014 recipients (along with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly) of the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to hockey in the United States. He received the award as part of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner on Thursday, December 4, in Minneapolis.[12]



Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1973–74 St. Paul Vulcans MWJHL 55 22 59 81 183
1974–75 U. of Minnesota WCHA 37 10 21 31 108
1975–76 Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA 51 14 16 30 121
1975–76 Johnstown Jets NAHL 6 3 12 15 12
1975–76 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 1 0 0 0 2
1975–76 Richmond Robins AHL 6 4 4 8 23
1976–77 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 59 14 12 26 201 10 1 1 2 25
1977–78 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 62 16 18 34 190 12 1 4 5 26
1978–79 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 57 19 10 29 168 8 1 5 6 22
1979–80 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 74 30 35 65 267 18 10 10 20 47
1980–81 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 77 22 37 59 306 12 5 9 14 49
1981–82 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 41 9 22 31 183 4 1 2 3 6
1982–83 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 77 19 24 43 178 3 0 0 0 6
1983–84 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 52 9 13 22 105
1983–84 Minnesota North Stars NHL 11 2 5 7 46 12 0 1 1 6
1984–85 Minnesota North Stars NHL 16 4 3 7 38 3 0 0 0 8
NHL totals 527 144 179 323 1684 82 19 32 51 195


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1974 United States WJC 4 0 0 0 8
Junior int'l totals 4 0 0 0 8

All-Star games

Year Location   G A P
1981 Los Angeles 0 1 1
All-Star totals 0 1 1

Coaching statistics

TeamYearRegular seasonPost-season
PHI1988–89 8036368804th in Patrick109Lost in Conference Finals
PHI1989–90 80303911706th in PatrickMissed playoffs
PHI1990–91 80333710765th in PatrickMissed playoffs
PHI1991–92 248142(75)6th in Patrick(fired)
HAR1992–93 8426526585th in AdamsMissed playoffs
HAR1993–94 174112(63)6th in Northeast(moved to GM's role)
HAR1994–95 4819255435th in NortheastMissed playoffs
HAR1995–96 12561(77)4th in Northeast(fired)
Total 425 161 219 45


  1. Staff. "Bike crash bloodies Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren", Sporting News, September 6, 2011. Accessed August 23, 2015. "Holmgren owns a home in Avalon and is a Somerset, N.J., resident, according to The Press of Atlantic City."
  2. Staff. "Flyers GM Holmgren injured in bike crash in Avalon", The Press of Atlantic City, September 6, 2011. Accessed August 23, 2015. "Holmgren, who owns a home in Avalon, has been the team's general manager since 2006. He also played for the Flyers from 1976-83 and coached the team from 1988-92."
  3. Hubbard, Kevin (1997). Hockey America. p. 135. ISBN 1-57028-196-3.
  5. Fraser, Kerry (1974). The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes (1st ed.). Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  6. Miles, Gary (June 16, 1992). "Holmgren Is Named Coach Of The Whalers". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  7. Panaccio, Tim (November 17, 1993). "Holgren (sic) Quits As Whalers Coach". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  8. Garber, Greg (June 12, 1994). "A Recovering Alcoholic's Painful Journey". The Courant. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  9. Bowen, Les (January 27, 1995). "For Holmgren, Lockout Allowed A Look In". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  10. "Holmgren fired as Whaler coach". Toledo Blade. November 7, 1995. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  11. "FLYERS PROMOTE PAUL HOLMGREN TO PRESIDENT; RON HEXTALL TO GENERAL MANAGER". Philadelphia Flyers. May 7, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  12. "Daly, Holmgren to receive 2014 Lester Patrick Trophy", September 16, 2014.
  13. "Flyers History - Playoff Gordie Howe Hattricks". Retrieved August 2, 2014.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Keenan
Head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers
Succeeded by
Bill Dineen
Preceded by
Jim Roberts
Head coach of the Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
Pierre McGuire
Preceded by
Brian Burke
General manager of the Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
Jim Rutherford
Preceded by
Pierre McGuire
Head coach of the Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
Paul Maurice
Preceded by
Bob Clarke
General manager of the Philadelphia Flyers
Succeeded by
Ron Hextall
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