Peter Laviolette will once again be fighting for his coaching life as his Philadelphia Flyers begin training camp in 16 days. Laviolette, who has been the orange and black’s head man since December 2009, is attempting to guide his team back to the NHL playoffs, after missing them last year for only the second time in the last 19 seasons. He is the organization’s 17th coach in its 46 year history.
In the lock-out shortened 2012-13 season the Flyers struggled to find their way during the 48 game schedule. A slow start combined with several injuries to key players, a down year by superstar captain Claude Giroux, and a less than stellar defensive corps had the team working on their tans in May rather than growing playoff beards. General manager Paul Holmgren is rumored to be on the hot seat, with the addition of former star goaltender Ron Hextall as assistant general manager over the summer, so don’t be surprised to see the trigger pulled on replacing the coach if the team struggles early.
Laviolette, who is rumored to be under contract through the 2014-15 season, is no stranger to being fired. His first NHL coaching experience with the New York Islanders (2001-2003) was abruptly ended after leading the struggling franchise to two consecutive playoff appearances that followed a seven year absence from the post-season. At the time, then Islander GM Mike Milbury referred to a severing of communication lines between Laviolette and the players as the reason for the termination.
He quickly resurfaced as the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes after the firing of Paul Maurice midway through the 2003-04 campaign. Lavy, as he is known, won the Hurricanes first Stanley Cup in the ’05-’06 season, and remained the Carolina boss through 25 games of the 2008-09 season. He was fired in December, 2008 and ironically replaced by the man he had succeeded in Raleigh, Maurice. Carolina had become the first team in the modern era of the NHL to miss the playoffs two consecutive years after winning the Cup. Laviolette took the firing gracefully saying at the time, ‘I’ve always told myself it’ll never be shocking, because the minute you say yes, there’ll be some day where they’ll say no..but that doesn’t make it easier.’
Lavy hopes that the Flyers come flying out of the gates in October so Holmgren doesn’t have to utter the word ‘no’.