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.
Stevens on the Hot Seat