Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette paid for the team’s winless start to the NHL season as he was fired after three games on Monday.
Craig Berube, a former Flyers player who was in his seventh season as the team’s assistant coach, was named Laviolette’s replacement and was to make his head coaching debut yesterday against the Florida Panthers.
“Right from the first day of training camp, I was worried about how the team looked,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said at a news conference. “We have a long way to go this season, but it’s about how we played and it was unacceptable. It was a gut feeling that I had to make a change.”
The decision to fire Laviolette, who took over as Flyers coach in December 2009, came a day after the team’s 2-1 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and marks one of the quickest coaching changes to start an NHL season.
In their first three games of the 2013-2014 season, the Flyers were outscored a combined 9-3.
Laviolette, who was in his fifth season behind the Flyers bench, went 145-98-29 with the organization during the regular season and led the team to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year in charge.
However, the team lost in the second round of the playoffs in each of the next two campaigns and took a step back during the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Laviolette began his coaching career with the New York Islanders in 2001, before spending five seasons with Carolina, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2006.
Prior to the start of the current season, Flyers owner Ed Snider had given Laviolette, who will act as an assistant on the US Sochi Olympic team, a vote of confidence, believing that last season was an anomaly, but after the winless start, had a change of heart.
“From my point of view, I’m disappointed in the start we had and I was disappointed in the pre-season we had,” Snider said.
“I’m hoping for better. We always try to make the team as good as we possibly can. Sometimes we’re not right. Hopefully, this time it’ll work on our behalf,” Snider added.