Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - On the first day of training camp, the Philadelphia Flyers were already a mess.
By the end of the preseason, Chairman Ed Snider had grave concerns about the team he founded.
"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."
He only needed three games to make a move.
After a winless start, the 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.
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 funk and keep his job. He dealt with rumors of his firing last season when 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 goalie Ray Emery. He also unloaded underperforming veterans, like goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and forward Danny Briere.
Holmgren liked his transactions. He just didn't like how Laviolette was operating.
"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 is signed through 2014-15. Along with the legendary Fred Shero, he's just the second man 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 U.S. Olympic team in Sochi.
Berube played for five teams, including the Flyers, during a 17-year career, and his 3,149 penalty minutes are seventh in NHL history. He will make his debut Tuesday, when the Flyers host Florida.