This morning, multiple sources reported that Peter Laviolette, the Flyers' coach for the last four seasons, was fired Monday morning after the team matched last year's franchise-worst 0-3-0 start.
According to ESPN, it is the fastest firing in NHL history, matched only by Chicago's canning of Dennis Savard in 2008 after a 1-2-1 start. The team has looked sluggish in each of its losses this year in being outscored 9-3 by their opponents.Laviolette's firing has not seemed to affect his reputation, as the Pierre LeBrun tweet that follows was an opinion echoed by his collegues across Twitter. The coach won the 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, whom he coached from 2003-2009 before coming to the Flyers.
Laviolette led the Flyers to the playoffs three straight seasons, including a 4-2 loss to the chicago Blackhawks for the 2010 Stanley Cup. Last year, however, the team stumbled mightily en-route to a 23-22-3 record, with management condemning the lockout-affected season as an "abberation." The stance was reinforced when the team bought out the contracts of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who had signed for nine years just one season ago, and Danny Briere, a veteran player who many believed to be washed up, over the summer. Some have been wondering why the Flyers, if they were so close to firing Laviolette, didn't just release him following the 2012 season instead of in-season. The hope was that things would be different this year, that the Flyers would be faster and perform up to their capabilities. The roster is chock-full of young talent, and the team's AHL prospects are looking better and better by the day. Unfortunately, it was more of the same to start 2013, and management must have decided a different voice was needed to get the players moving.
While many of Laviolette's regulars might not be listening, Casey Feeney, producer at Comcast Sportsnet, noted that "Vinny Lecavalier told John Boruk [of CSN] 6 days ago that one of his key reasons for signing in PHI was Peter Laviolette." Feeney's claim makes sense, considering that Lecavalier, the veteran center, has outperformed many of his younger teammates so far, with two points and contributions on both sides of the ice.
Laviolette will be replaced by former assistant coach Craig Berube. Berube played 17 seasons in the NHL before retiring following the 2003-04 season. Eight of those seasons were spent with the Flyers organization, and after retiring, Berube served as coach for the Adirondack Phantoms, as well as assistant head coach with the Flyers, where he was positioned before Monday's news.
Pierre LeBrun tweeted that there will be "No interim tag" on Berube, who will try to turn things around for the team tomorrow, when they play the Florida Panthers. Laviolette took over in Philadelphia early in the 2009-10 season, replacing then-coach John Stevens after 25 games.