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December 2, 1955|
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)|
Minnesota Fighting Saints|
Minnesota North Stars
|National team||United States|
108th overall, 1975|
67th overall, 1974|
Paul Howard Holmgren (born December 2, 1955) is an American former professional ice hockey player and former general manager and the current President of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL). 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 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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
|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||--||--||--||--||--|
|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|
|PHI||1988-89||80||36||36||8||80||4th in Patrick||10||9||Lost in Conference Finals|
|PHI||1989-90||80||30||39||11||70||6th in Patrick||Missed playoffs|
|PHI||1990-91||80||33||37||10||76||5th in Patrick||Missed playoffs|
|PHI||1991-92||24||8||14||2||(75)||6th in Patrick||(fired)|
|HAR||1992-93||84||26||52||6||58||5th in Adams||Missed playoffs|
|HAR||1993-94||17||4||11||2||(63)||6th in Northeast||(moved to GM's role)|
|HAR||1994-95||48||19||25||5||43||5th in Northeast||Missed playoffs|
|HAR||1995-96||12||5||6||1||(77)||4th in Northeast||(fired)|
| Head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers
| Head coach of the Hartford Whalers
| General Manager of the Hartford Whalers
| Head coach of the Hartford Whalers
| General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers