Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Laviolette named assistant coach for Team USA under Dan Bylsma

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette will assist hated rival, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, for Team USA in Sochi.

Laviolette named assistant coach for Team USA under Dan Bylsma

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has been named as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic team. (John Woods/The Canadian Press/AP file photo)<br />
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has been named as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic team. (John Woods/The Canadian Press/AP file photo)

Aside from the chewing gum and timely timeouts, it is the indelible image of Peter Laviolette's tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers.

April 1, 2012. Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh. Game No. 79.

Laviolette, walking the tightrope that is the dasherboards between benches, climbed past the protective plexiglass separating the Flyers and Penguins and shattered Max Talbot's stick in frustration at the direction of Penguins coach Dan Bylsma - on national television.

Standing in the way was Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato. The anger was palpable. After the game, Laviolette called Bylsma "gutless" for sending his checking line on the ice in the final minute of a 6-3 rout. Joe Vitale crushed Danny Briere with a thunderous check to light the powder keg. Highlights of the altercation are below.

Next February, Laviolette, Granato and Bylsma will all be on one bench together.

USA Hockey announced on Tuesday that Laviolette will be one of Bylsma's assistant coaches for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Laviolette, 48, was the head coach of Team USA in 2006 at the Turin Olympics. Granato and Columbus assistant Todd Richards will be the other assistant coaches.

The Daily News first wrote about this possibility back on Feb. 20. Bylsma, the clear front-runner for the job, was named head coach of Team USA on June 29.

"Getting together with Dan Bylsma, we talked about a lot of different candidates, different roles and chemistry. This is the group we came up with," Team USA and Nashville GM David Poile said Tuesday. "All four of our coaches have been a head coach in the National Hockey League. I think that speaks volumes about how far USA Hockey has come. We're really happy to have everyone on-board. It's a fabulous staff."

Laviolette was fined $10,000 by the NHL for that very public shouting match with Bylsma and Granato, in which he broke a stick over the glass in frustration. Granato was fined $2,500. Both men were ejected from the game - the first time a Flyers coach had been thrown out of a game in at least 15 years.

Seemingly, the anger never really subsided. The Flyers and Penguins rivalry is not only the best in hockey, but perhaps currently one of the best in all of sport - and the feud between coaches added to it all. 

In February, Bylsma joked that he didn't like Laviolette's orange ties.

Interestingly, sources close to the situation say it was Granato who helped lobby on Laviolette's behalf to Bylsma. Granato has been Bylsma's assistant since 2009. Apparently, Granato's message to Bylsma was that him and Laviolette are coaches with a similar, burning passion. They're more alike than they probably realize.

"I know Tony from way back," Laviolette said on Feb. 21. "You want to write a sentimental story today? I’m going to pass on the sentiment today and focus on how we can take care of the Penguins tonight. Tony and I are good friends. Time passes on and you lose touch a little bit with friends, but, Tony’s a good guy."

Laviolette and Granato are the same age. They played together growing up - including the only 12 games Laviolette played in the NHL, for the New York Rangers in 1988-89. They were also on the U.S. Men's National Team together in 1987-88.

When Granato married his wife, Linda, it was Laviolette who was at the wedding. Bylsma said that when he visited Granato's house for a party, he turned the wedding photos around so he wouldn't have to look at Laviolette.

Now, they will not only need to look at each other, but they will need to put their heads together - for the good of America. 

DN Members Only: On DNL, Rich Hofmann writes about Ilya Bryzgalov's continuing downspiral.

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