Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flyers Coach Receives Vote of Confidence

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flyers Coach Receives Vote of Confidence

Article excerpt

If the Flyers are going to avoid watching the Stanley Cup playoffs go on without them for only the second time since 1995, they will do so with Peter Laviolette coaching mostly the same crop of players.

Despite swirling rumors and speculation, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Thursday he has not given any consideration toward firing Laviolette.

"I haven't even thought about it," Holmgren said. "It hasn't even entered my mind. Right now, I think our team needs to play better. I don't think we can let the players off the hook here."

The Flyers (12-15-1) entered Friday night's rubber match against the Devils four points back of a playoff position, despite having played significantly more games than most of the teams they are chasing. Wednesday's 5-2 shellacking in New Jersey was the Flyers' eighth loss by three or more goals in 28 games, a total only last place Florida has topped.

Flyers chairman Ed Snider declined to comment on the state of the franchise.

Most of the Flyers acted legitimately surprised when asked point- blank after Thursday's practice whether Laviolette is at fault for their underwhelming performances. Captain Claude Giroux called it "a joke" that people would blame Laviolette.

"It's ultimately up to us," Wayne Simmonds said. "We're the guys who are on the ice. We're the ones going to execute the game plan. 'Lavy' just puts the game plan out; it's up to us to execute that. We're not doing that at the moment."

Although the Flyers' players acted surprised, it's far easier to fire the coach in the NHL than it is to fire all 23 players. Frankly, it's what the Flyers historically have done when a season turns sour, as it so obviously did Wednesday.

Last weekend, Laviolette passed Ken Hitchcock for sixth all-time in Flyers history for games coached (249), yet he can rocket up to third if he just hangs on for the remaining 20 games of the season. Pat Quinn (262), John Stevens (263), and even Holmgren himself (264) all were forced to clean out their offices in this coaching witching hour.

In the time from when Buffalo hired Lindy Ruff and then fired him last month, there were 170 coaching changes in the NHL, an average of 11. …

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