We are less than a week into the NHL season and there is already a coaching casualty. It was announced this morning that the Philadelphia Flyers have relieved Peter Laviolette of his coaching duties with the team, replacing him with assistant coach Craig Berube. In addition to this, the Flyers have named new assistant coaches in John Paddock and Ian Laperriere.
This does come as a bit of a surprise. It was less than a month ago that Laviolette had been given a vote of confidence from Flyers chairman Ed Snyder.
This isn’t a new story in Philadelphia. Rumors had been floating around last season that Laviolette may be on his way out the door. The Flyers missed the playoffs last year in the lockout-shortened season. It was the first time they had failed to make the playoffs under Laviolette. All of this comes after Laviolette signed a two-year contract extension last year that would have kept him behind the bench through the 2014-15 season.
A big reason that this decision was made now was the Flyers starting the season 0-3. They also started last year 0-3 as well. Laviolette led the Flyers to three straight playoff appearances before they stumbled last season. The Flyers went 23-22-3 and were 10th in the Eastern Conference with 49 points last year, and couldn’t recover from a slow start.
The Flyers hired Laviolette in December 2009 and during his time behind the Flyers bench, Laviolette went 145-98-29. The last time the Flyers changed head coaches during the season was 2009-10, when Laviolette was hired to replace John Stevens. That season, the Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
As for his replacement, Berube, he is no stranger to this team. Berube has been serving as an assistant coach for Philadelphia for the last seven years. He served the past six years under Laviolette and Stevens. Plus, Berube knows the organization quite well, as he started his playing career with the Flyers in 1986-87.
The poor start isn’t all on the coaching staff here. As a team, the Flyers have only scored three goals in those first three games, and have been outscored 9-3 in those three losses. That said, somebody needs to take the fall for the team getting off to the poor start it has. In this case, it was Laviolette. Something had to be done to try and shake things up, and this may be it.
According to TSN, this is the earliest in a season that a head coach has ever been fired. Three times prior, a coach had been fired four games into a season (1995, 2000, 2008). This year also really hasn’t been a good year to be a head coach in Philadelphia, as all four pro sports teams in the city have now gotten new head coaches since January of 2013.