The Philadelphia Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette and replaced him with Craig Berube following an 0-3 start in which the team was outscored 9-3.
Ian Laperriere and John Paddock were named assistants, while Kevin McCarthy also was replaced, the National Hockey League team said today at a news conference.
Paul Holmgren, the Flyers’ general manager, said he had some concerns about the team’s play under Laviolette last season, which was shortened because of a labor dispute. After the team missed the playoffs, he decided to give Laviolette another chance this season before deciding to make the change last night on the plane ride home following a loss at the Carolina Hurricanes, he said.
“Right from Day 1 of training camp I was concerned about how our team looked,” Holmgren said. “It was unacceptable, we don’t look like a team at all.”
The firing wasn’t the quickest coaching change to start an NHL season. Bill Gadsby left the Detroit Red Wings two games into the 1969-70 campaign, and Fred Glover left the California Golden Seals after three games of the 1971-72 season, according to ESPN, which cited Elias Sports Bureau.
The Flyers, 23-22-3 last season, were beaten 2-1 at Carolina. They lost 3-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs to open the season and 4-1 at the Montreal Canadiens.
Laviolette, 48, replaced John Stevens as the Flyers’ coach 25 games into the 2009-10 season and led the team to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. Philadelphia lost in the conference semifinals in each of the next two seasons.
Berube, 47, was an NHL forward from 1986 to 2003, playing his first five seasons in Philadelphia and returning for 1998-2000. Known as an enforcer, he had 3,149 penalty minutes in his career, with 61 goals and had 159 assists.
He’s been a Flyers’ assistant coach for seven seasons and has been with the organization for 17, having coached the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate.
“I’ve always been a Flyer in my mind,” Berube said.
Holmgren called Berube “one of the smartest hockey guys I’ve ever been around,” and team Chairman Ed Snider defended the team’s decision to hire from within even though the club last won the Stanley Cup in 1975.
“We don’t need a fresh perspective,” Snider said. “We have a pretty good culture and we know who we’re dealing with.”
With Berube making his debut tomorrow at home against the Florida Panthers, the team still has confidence in its players, Holmgren said.
“I’m not going to let the players off the hook,” he said. “I still believe in our players. We have good players, we’re just not playing very well. We need to play better.”