General manager Paul Holmgren said he is not thinking about making a coaching change, and he criticized the Flyers’ “compete” level during an impromptu news conference at the team’s practice facility in Voorhees on Thursday.
At first, Holmgren gave coach Peter Laviolette a seemingly lukewarm endorsement.
Asked if Laviolette was on the hot seat, Holmgren said, “I don’t think so.”
Holmgren later added: “I haven’t even thought about” making a coaching change and that he was “not at the point” of making a major trade.
The general manager chastised the Flyers’ effort in their 5-2 loss to the Devils on Wednesday.
“If there were 100 puck battles, I don’t know if we won a handful of them,” he said.
Holmgren said the Flyers are “making a lot of mistakes. Some of them are from a lack of competitiveness, and I think our team needs to compete better. I don’t think we can let the players off the hook here.”
The Flyers are 12-15-1, have not had a winning streak of more than two games, and are 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Do not blame Laviolette, said Kimmo Timonen, the highly respected defenseman who is two games shy of the 1,000 mark.
“It’s not his fault; we play the game,” said Timonen, whose team will host New Jersey on Friday, their second meeting with the Devils in the last three nights. “It's always easy to blame the coach. He only places the system down and we have to execute the system. If we don't, then that's our fault.”
Asked if he felt pressure for Laviolette, Timonen said, “I don't think about it. We shouldn't be thinking about that. We should be thinking about how we're going to beat the New Jersey Devils. If we start thinking about issues what's going on off the ice, it's not going to help us. What happens, happens. It's not really in our hands. What matters is what we do on the ice.”
The Flyers, who have a head-scratching 4-11 road record, have 20 games left in the shortened season.
"It’s been a tough year; it’s been a completely different year for most of us who have never been a part of the lockout,” winger Jake Voracek said. “It’s been a lot of tough games, a lot of traveling, a lot of back-to-back games. It’s something different, but I don’t know why anyone would put (the blame) on Lavy. I would never say that.”
On the record, the Flyers support Laviolette.
On the ice, they are playing like they don’t have his back. They frequently fall behind and lose their fight, and they rarely play a sustained 60 minutes.
Last summer, Laviolette was given a two-year extension that runs through the end of the 2014-15 season.
In parts of four seasons with the Flyers, Laviolette has a 134-88-27 record. 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 then went 47-23-12 (winning the Atlantic Division) and 47-26-9 the next two seasons.
The Flyers have a similar team as last season. They subtracted three key players (James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr) and added players such as Luke Schenn, Ruslan Fedotenko and Simon Gagne _ after they failed in attempts to sign marquee free agents Zach Parise, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
At 12-15-1, the Flyers have 25 points _ 14 points behind last year, when they were 18-7-3 at a similar juncture.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.