Winless Flyers fire Laviolette; Berube takes over
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — After a winless start, the Philadelphia Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette on Monday, three seasons after he led them to the Stanley Cup finals.
Assistant Craig Berube, in his seventh season coaching within the organization, was promoted to replace Laviolette. He is the 18th coach in the club’s history.
Chairman Ed Snider had grave concerns about the team by the end of the preseason, and only needed three games to make a move.
“I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen,” Snider said. “I’m not talking about wins or losses. There was nothing exciting. Nobody shined. Nobody looked good. I couldn’t point to one thing that I thought was a positive.
“Unfortunately, my worries were realized.”
Laviolette just couldn’t overcome a punchless offense, a pair of journeymen in goal and a patchwork defense to jolt the Flyers out of their trouble and keep his job. He dealt with rumors of his firing last season, a year in which the Flyers missed the playoffs after the lockout shortened the campaign. It was the only season in which he failed to make the postseason in Philadelphia.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren tried to mold a playoff roster in the offseason, signing forward Vinny Lecavalier, defenseman Mark Streit and goaltender Ray Emery. He also jettisoned overpriced and underperforming veterans, like goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forward Danny Briere.
Holmgren liked his transactions. He just didn’t like how Laviolette was putting the pieces together.
“I think some of the additions that we made this summer were good additions,” Holmgren said. “I think there was some excitement about our team going into training camp. Right from Day 1 of training camp, I was concerned.
“But it was more about how we played, and it was unacceptable. We don’t look like a team at all.”
Laviolette had been signed through 2014-15. He’s just the second coach in Flyers history to coach parts of five seasons.
He was hired early in the 2009 season after John Stevens was fired, and led the Flyers on an improbable run to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Chicago in six games.
Laviolette won the Stanley Cup coaching Carolina in 2006, and previously coached the New York Islanders. He’s still set to serve as an assistant under Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma for the United States in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Berube had 20 goals and 54 points over parts of seven seasons with the Flyers. He played for four other teams over a 17-year career and his 3,149 penalty minutes are seventh in NHL history.
Berube will make his debut Tuesday, when the Flyers play host to Florida.
“Just because I’ve been in the organization a long time doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same thing other coaches did,” he said. “I’m not them. I have my own thoughts. I have my own way of how I want to coach.”