The Peter Laviolette Era Begins in Philadelphia

The Peter Laviolette Era Begins in Philadelphia

Tim Panaccio is reporting on Daily News Live that the Flyers will hire Peter Laviolette to succeed John Stevens as the next head coach of the team. He'll be joined by Kevin McCarthy, who will leave the Hurricanes to be an assistant for the Flyers, according to Darren Dreger. The American-born Laviolette is a change of pace for the Flyers in that he's not someone who has played or coached within the organization before, and they often like to stay in-house. However, Laviolette does have ties to Paul Holmgren, with both playing significant roles within USA Hockey on the international level. 

Laviolette coached the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup win in the 2005-2006 season, but when the club failed to continue its success, missing the playoffs entirely in the next two seasons, he was fired one year ago yesterday. Before coaching in Carolina, Laviolette led the Islanders to two straight playoff appearances, which is amazing in itself. 

John Stevens was known as a players' coach with a soft spot for the guys he coached when he was behind the Phantoms bench in the AHL. No one will confuse Laviolette with a players' coach. He's also not someone who tolerates much fighting. With the Flyers currently leading the league in penalty minutes (again), something's gonna have to give. 

Maybe that is what the team needs right now. 

But, let's not forget that Ken Hitchcock was fired in large part because the players—some of whom are still on the team today—didn't like him. The pendulum swings back again...  

I for one am glad to see them go outside the organization. If Stevens, who was actually among the more tenured coaches in Flyers history with 3+ seasons leading the club and the second-most tenured coach in the conference, wasn't the right fit, who's to say the guy who replaced him with the Phantoms would be? If a change was necessary, it's probably best to bring in an entirely fresh perspective. Laviolette isn't perfect, but he does bring that new feel, and he has that nice piece of jewelry too. 

Stevens leaves the Flyers with a winning record, which is more impressive than it sounds when you factor in that he was brought in amidst the worst season in the franchise's history. Just one season later, Stevens' first full campaign behind the bench, the Flyers went to the Eastern Conference Finals. It's hard to fault the organization for making a change at this time though. Heading into the season, the Flyers were considered one of the two or three top contenders for the Stanley Cup. If the playoffs started tomorrow, however, the Flyers would be packing up their lockers right now. 

Stevens isn't likely to be out of the league for long. 

Previously:
Stevens on the Hot Seat

Stevens Fired

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."