MONTREAL _ Forget the rumors about Peter Laviolette being fired after the season.
It sounds as if the Flyers’ fiery coach is staying.
Without formally announcing it, general manager Paul Holmgren gave Laviolette a strong vote of confidence in Montreal on Monday.
Asked if he planned to make a coaching change after the season, Holmgren’s reply was succinct.
“I haven’t even thought along those lines,” he told The Inquirer in a phone conversation. “I think it’s been a difficult year because of the (injury) situation. We haven’t had our whole team all year.
“I don’t blame the coaches.”
After Monday's morning skate, Holmgren said he expects Laviolette to be his coach next season.
Laviolette, who has two more years on his contract, downplayed Holmgren's comments.
"We have to focus on what we can control and that's the game tonight," said Laviolette, whose team plays in Montreal on Monday night.
"I don't think about that too much," he said when asked if he felt relieved to get a vote of condfidence. "We've got a big game and that's way more important."
The players seemed to like the news that Laviolette will return.
"I like Lavy. I like the way he approaches the game, the way he approaches us to get ready for the game," winger Scott Hartnell said after the morning skate. "I like the person he is. Everyone respects him. It's not his fault the way we've come out and played."
The Flyers, losers of four straight, are 17-21-3 and will miss the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.
“Am I happy with the players and our season? No. Am I happy we’re not in the playoffs? No. But I think the coaches have done a good job under the circumstances,” Holmgren said.
A month ago, Holmgren said he would evaluate Laviolette after the season. In recent days, there have been rumors that the Flyers’ slide out of playoff contention would cause Laviolette to lose his job.
Call those rumors false.
Defenseman Luke Schenn credited Laviolette with his development this season. After a slow start, Schenn has arguably been the team's best defenseman in the last month.
"Coaches can be a little sarcastic and negative toward you, but the whole time he's been nothing but positive, even though sometimes you go through struggles as a team or an individual with ups and downs," Schenn said. "You have that positivity, it's a lot easier to get out of that funk.
"It's not always easy to be positive in a situation like this, but guys want to play for a guy who has their back."
"He shouldn't have the blame in any way, shape or form," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "He doesn't go out there and play the game. He draws up Xs and Os and we're the ones who have to execute. It's been our problem this year."
After replacing John Stevens early in the 2009-10 season, Laviolette directed the Flyers to a 28-24-5 record, and that team made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers went 47-23-12 (winning the Atlantic) and 47-26-9 the next two seasons before falling flat in this lockout-shortened season.
Said captain Claude Giroux: "Lavy's a good coach. He knows how to win. He won a Cup before (in Carolina), and we have a lot of confidence in him and what he can do. I don't think nobody hates him here."
Bryz in nets. After sitting out the last game, Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in the nets Monday against Montreal.
Steve Mason played extremely well in the last game, a 1-0 loss Saturday in Buffalo.
Laviolette said it was a difficult decision, but noted that Bryzgalov was also sharp in his previous start.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.