Peter Laviolette allegedly lost the locker room, then went the way of Ken Hitchcock

Peter Laviolette allegedly lost the locker room, then went the way of Ken Hitchcock

Too much jam?

Boy if this isn't beginning to sound like Ken Hitchcock all over again. Hitch, you may remember, was fired just eight games into the 2006-07 season, after he had reportedly lost his locker room, particularly young building blocks like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

Bob Clarke also resigned/was removed that day as general manager. Paul Holmgren, who replaced him, did manage to survive Monday.

Following this morning's press conference, Ed Snider admitted that this wasn't all Laviolette's fault, and even frankly stated he would have fired the players instead of the coach if only that were possible. Quote:

“That’s not talking about Peter. That’s talking about our players, and it carried right on over to the first three games of the season. It’s not simply the three games you saw. There’s more to it than that. Basically, there are a lot of things I know that are private.

...

So, someone asked Snider, you fire the coach because you can’t get rid of the players?

“Right,” Snider replied. “You show me a way to do that, we’ll be glad to do that instead.”

Sound familiar? Here's an excerpt from the AP's Hitchcock/Clarke post-mortem back in '06:

Snider acknowledged the Flyers had tuned out Hitchcock and his demanding style.

"I knew what went on and I feel that's an unfair statement," Hitchcock said.

As for what happened with Laviolette, this back-and-forth ESPN chat from Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside paints a familiar picture:

Pierre LeBrun: I do know Berube is beloved by the players and I think that's where it has to start: re-establishing a trusting relationship between the players and the coach. A source told me Monday morning that Laviolette and the players were no longer on the same page, and that's not shocking when you saw how they played in the opening three games. The players seemed to be waiting for the coach to be fired. It makes you wonder why the Flyers didn't make this change last spring, after the Flyers missed the playoffs.

...

I believe one factor in Laviolette’s firing was an organizational concern that some young players on the team -- namely Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn -- were not developing properly, or as rapidly as anticipated. The Flyers traded away Carter and Richards because they truly believed Couturier and Schenn were capable of supporting star center Giroux as the team redeveloped its core. It just hasn't worked out that way so far.

The coach is out in less than 10 games, because he lost the locker room, particularly the young kids who aren't developing fast enough. For what it's worth, Schenn is 22 and Couturier 20.

Ed Snider doesn't feel like the Flyers need a "fresh perspective," but history only seems to repeat itself with this franchise. With any luck,  2013-14 won't turn out like 2006-07, the worst season in franchise history.

That campaign led them to lose a coin flip to the Chicago Blackhawks for the rights to the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft -- Patrick Kane. The consolation prize, James van Riemsdyk, didn't develop the way the Flyers wanted either. Neither did the future Vezina goaltender they gave up on after a promising rookie season.

Flyers fans may be tired of rehashing the past, but it's a part how this team got to where it is.

And here we are on a rainy Monday in Philadelphia.

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake continues to rack up the accolades.

A couple of weeks after being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, the rising Philadelphia Union star was named to the MLS Best XI team as one of the league’s top players in 2016.

The rest of the team included:

• Forwards Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), David Villa (New York City FC) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
• Midfielders Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Sacha Kljestan (Red Bulls), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
• Defenders Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids) and Jelle Van Damme (Galaxy)

Blake’s inclusion on the Best XI is not a surprise considering he already took home top goalkeeper honors. Even though he didn’t have the best numbers in the league, he made the spectacular look ordinary in his first full season as an MLS starter.

But it is unique for the Union, who haven’t had a player make the Best XI since Sebastien Le Toux was included for his 14-goal, 11-assist effort in Philly's 2010 expansion season.

Union winger Chris Pontius, who recently won the 2016 MLS Breakout Player of the Year award, made Best XI while with D.C. United in 2012. Former Union players to be honored on the prestigious list were Bakary Soumare with Chicago in 2008 and Justin Mapp with Chicago in 2006.

Another big honor like this will likely only increase the chatter that Blake could be sold to a big team in Europe soon. But a couple of weeks ago, the Union goalkeeper insisted his only focus for 2017 is on Philadelphia.

“From a personal standpoint, I’m hoping to have an even better season than 2016,” he said at the time. “To be able to go in and be consistent and do everything I can for the Union — and maybe be the goalkeeper to get them their first [MLS] Cup.”

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

There’s a number of reasons why the Flyers have a five-game winning streak, why they’re playing better hockey, and why they own the No. 1 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
Perhaps the biggest reason of all is goaltender Steve Mason, who has won four of those games, compiling a 1.71 goals against average and .945 save percentage during that span.
 
Mason was named the NHL’s first “Star of the Week” on Monday. St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones were second and third stars.
 
“The team is on a roll right now and I’m a benefactor of that,” said Mason, who needs a win Tuesday against Florida to tie his career-high streak of five set Dec. 17-30 in 2013, during his first, full season as a Flyer.
 
“There’s strong play in front of me. The team is playing a little tighter in our defensive zone of late and making the goaltender reads that much more simple. 
 
“Right now, there’s a comfort level with the guys in front of me … Winning five in a row is nice and we’d like to keep making ground in the standings.”
 
His four victories last week were tops in the NHL. Among them, he had a season-high 45 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against Boston. 
 
Like many goalies, Mason prefers action. Games such as the 3-2 overtime win at Ottawa last week when the Senators only fired 21 shots, bother him.
 
“Those games, when you are not getting a lot of shots, the ones you do get will be a high-grade scoring chance,” he said. “And when you’re sitting around a few minutes not seeing the puck and all of a sudden see a chance like that …
 
“It’s more difficult to play [those games] than the games where there is a constant workload and you’re not thinking, but just playing. For myself personally, those are the games I enjoy the most. When I see a lot of pucks.”
 
The Flyers have seen dramatic improvement over the past month in their overall defensive play, from both their defensemen in down-low coverage in the slow and with their forwards on the backcheck.
 
Mason said the team has gone through “growing pains” with trying to integrate some younger bodies to the lineup this season – Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nick Cousins  come to mind.
 
“You have to familiar with everybody,” he said. “Have a constant lineup where guys go out  shift after shift and night after night, you know what to expect from one another. When you have that kind of confidence in guys, it makes playing easier.” 
 
Mason’s 4-2 victory at Nashville on Sunday saw him go over .500 for the first time this season with a 9-8-3 record. 
 
His GAA is coming down at 2.76 while his save percentage has risen to .904.
 
“I was aware of it obviously, just because of the way the year started,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work to get it above the .900 level.
 
“We’re obviously going to continue to work at getting it even better. The way the team’s playing right now and the way everybody’s clicking, we’re going at a good pace right now.”