John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Flying No More: Flyers fire Peter Laviolette

Peter Laviolette has become the first NHL head coach to get the axe this season.

After an 0-3 start to the season with just three goals, the Philadelphia Flyers made the change behind the bench, replacing him with Craig Berube. Laviolette is the fastest coach to be fired to start a season in NHL history, according to Kevin Gibson from TSN Research.

Apart from Vincent Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn, the Flyers have been punchless offensively. Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Matt Read, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Sean Couturier have all been held pointless through the first three games.

Laviolette took over the Flyers midway through the 2009-10 season, replacing John Stevens. He turned the Flyers around, making the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, overcoming a 3-0 playoff deficit against the Boston Bruins, and reaching the Stanley Cup final before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers made it to the second round in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 before missing the playoffs last season.

Laviolette leaves with a 145-98-29 record over parts of five seasons. This won’t be the last NHL job for Laviolette, a Stanley Cup champion in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He has winning records with all three teams he’s coached (Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers), and he fell victim to Philadelphia and its demanding culture. Laviolette is the tenth head coach the Flyers have fired since 1991.

With Laviolette’s dismissal, the focus shifts to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. Holmgren has been in charge since Bobby Clarke resigned early in the 2006-07 season, but Philadelphia’s inability to return to the Stanley Cup final since 2009-10 has Holmgren on the hot seat.

Berube is the third head coach hired in Holmgren’s tenure after Stevens and Laviolette, so when does Holmgren start to feel more heat?

I’d suggest the burner’s been turned up significantly.

Holmgren hasn’t had the best track record with recent moves. He negotiated the nine-year, $51 million Ilya Bryzgalov contract, the 11- and 12-year contracts to Jeff Carter and Mike Richards respectively, along with the failed offer sheet for Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber.

He traded Carter and Richards at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft after they were big players in Philadelphia’s 2009-10 playoff run, only to watch them win a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings the next season. He also gave up on Sergei Bobrovsky, only to watch him win the Vezina Trophy in Columbus last season while getting Steve Mason from the Blue Jackets.

While the Flyers have been a playoff team for most of Holmgren’s tenure, he’s made a mess of recent off-seasons. If the Flyers miss the playoffs again this season, Holmgren’s gone for sure. Ed Snider isn’t known for his patience, though, so the Flyers need to turn it around fast if Holmgren wants to keep his job.

Tags: Craig Berube Paul Holmgren Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers

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