NHL coaching carousel: Flyers fire Laviolette after three games
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 22:10
The NHL coaching carousel is always turning.
In the era of social media, coaches are always on the chopping block, as expectations are constantly high. Fans have the means to voice their displeasure at all times, as each and every personnel decision is constantly under the microscope.
John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault swapped jobs prior to the season, one year after they led their respective teams to the tops of their conferences. The Dallas Stars underwent a complete upheaval by hiring Lindy Ruff to go with their acquisition of Tyler Seguin. The Colorado Avalanche are currently trying to relive their glory days, as the legendary goaltender Patrick Roy has already shown he isn’t afraid to get physical, even if he is confined to suit and tie.
However, no move has been quite as outlandish as the one made by the Philadelphia Flyers, who fired head coach Peter Laviolette Monday after an 0-3 start.
Laviolette, who is three years removed from leading the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, is just the latest of head coach sackings in the City of Brotherly Love, as all four Philadelphia major sports franchises have had a change in leadership in the past ten months.
The firing of Laviolette isn’t exactly questionable, as the Flyers have underachieved greatly in recent memory. The 2012-13 campaign was especially disappointing, as the Flyers missed out on postseason action for the first time since 2007.
However, the timing of Laviolette’s dismissal is puzzling, as firing a coach three games into the season is far from the norm. Laviolette’s sacking is the earliest to start a season since 1971, according to ESPN, as the Flyers wasted little time in getting rid of their head coach of four seasons.
This begs the question: why not fire Laviolette during the offseason, giving a new coach a full summer to make an impact on the team? And if you decided to keep Laviolette during the summer, why make a move so early, as three games are hardly enough to demonstrate a team’s full-season destiny.
Laviolette’s fate was seemingly doomed in training camp, as Flyer chairman Ed Snider spoke out about the concerns of the state of the franchise.
“I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen,” Snider said according to ESPN. “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.”
Despite Snider’s concerns, the Flyers boast a roster with sufficient offensive talent, as Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and new acquisition Vinny Lecavalier are all household names, despite the lack of offense early in the season.
However, an undermanned defense and a lack of a true number-one goaltender leave the Flyers seemingly doomed to Eastern Conference mediocrity.
The man charged with fixing all that is broken in Philly will be assistant Craig Berube, who has been promoted to the head coaching position.
However, it will take a lot more than the firing of a veteran coach to mend all that has been broken in Philly, as the Flyers are a team that currently has more cracks than the Liberty Bell.
At the end of the day, in a league defined by a “win-now” mentality, the failings of the Flyers were placed on Laviolette, despite his past successes. Berube will have his chance to make an impact on the Flyers, as the next 79 games will be his opportunity to lead Philadelphia in a way that Laviolette couldn’t.