At 80-years-old, most folks are retired and living in a warm climate. Perhaps Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider should consider looking for property in South Florida so his pride and joy franchise can enter the 21st Century. Snider’s passion can never be questioned, however his philosophical approach to managing an NHL team is stuck in another era, and the Flyers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since the mid-70s as a result.
Always known to have a quick trigger finger as an organization, the Flyers named their 11th head coach in the last 20 years today when Craig Berube replaced the fired Peter Laviolette after the team’s 0-3 start. General manager Paul Holmgren, who found out he was traded as a Flyers player by hearing it on the radio, and was unceremoniously fired himself as head coach of the team in the middle of his fourth season, broke the news to Laviolette Monday morning.
In a press conference to introduce Berube as the new headman, Holmgren referred to a “gut feeling” as his reason for dropping the hammer on Laviolette only three games into the season. You can bet that the well-documented impatience of the aging Snider heavily contributed to today’s move. Holmgren himself is under the gun, as the Flyers uncharacteristically missed the playoffs last year for only the second time in 18 seasons.
In what seems like a desperate move to save his job, as well as an attempt to win a Cup for the relentless Snider while he is still alive, Holmgren fired a coach quicker than any team has since the early 1970s. The quick termination makes little sense given that this year’s team is not very different than last year’s squad.
If a new coach was the answer, the Philadelphia media wondered why Laviolette wasn’t fired in the off-season to save everyone the embarrassment and humiliation of doing it less than one week into the new schedule. “I think it was the right thing to do at the time, too: to start training camp, start the year with Peter. I just didn’t like what I was seeing…” an almost ashamed Holmgren said.
The organizational culture that Snider has created is steeped with loyalty and tradition, and many wonder if this has become a detriment. Rarely going outside the organization to fill management and coaching vacancies Berube, a career tough-guy who has no NHL head coaching experience, is a puzzling choice.
A team that still clings to the grinding, tough persona that brought championships in the early 70s appears to be well behind the trends of the new NHL. It’s now up to Berube to turn things around in order to save Holmgren’s job and give the aging Snider some hope. Philadelphia fans are left to wonder if their team would be better off with Snider playing shuffleboard in Boynton Beach rather than playing musical -coaches in South Philly.
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