Flyers GM Paul Holmgren: Firing Peter Laviolette a 'gut feeling'
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren and chairman Ed Snider met with reporters at a press conference announcing the dismissal of head coach Peter Laviolette.
Craig Berube is the new man in charge, and he won't have the interim tag. Holmgren said Berube's deal is for "more than this year."
"I've always been a Flyer in my mind," Berube said after being introduced.
Here are some more highlights of what Holmgren said.
I met with Peter Laviolette earlier this morning and informed him that he was being relieved of his duties as head coach. Right after that I met with assistant coach Kevin McCarthy and told Kevin the same thing. After that I met with Craig and we talked and I offered him the job to be head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Craig accepted and here we are today.
I think from a timeline standpoint of my decision, on making this change at such an early point in the season, I can go back a little bit to last year and my concerns about how the team played.
I was looking back and you think: in a lockout-shortened year, we didn't have a training camp. We had a lot of injuries. I thought it was important that Peter had another shot with a training camp, and I think some of the additions we made this summer were good additions, in Ray Emery and Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit.
I think there was some excitement about our team going into training camp, and right from day one of training camp, I was concerned about how the team looked.
And I think obviously our play - 0-3 [the team's record] is 0-3. We've still got a long way to go in terms of the season, but it was more about how we played. It was unacceptable. We don't look like a team at all, and I felt just a gut feeling that I needed to make the decision.
I made the decision last night on the plane when we came back from Carolina [after Sunday's 2-1 loss], and here we are today.
I'm excited about the opportunity to have Craig coach the Philadelphia Flyers. Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I've ever been around. He's learned the coaching business over the last nine years. He has been a head coach with the Phantoms. He demands respect. He's a guy that holds people accountable. He's a no BS kind of guy, and i'm looking forward to Craig taking over the team today.
We have some work to do. Craig has some work to do. I'm not going to let the players off the hook ... We'll meet with them later today. Things have to get better, and they will.
The expectations are big with the Philadelphia Flyers. We expect to be in the playoffs. We expect to win. Sometimes that's just the way the busines goes. Look, I think Peter - I'd be remiss to not thank Peter Laviolette for what he brought to the Philadelphia organization over the last three-plus seasons. I think Peter did a good job. He's a good coach and we wish him all the best. But you know what, things weren't going well, and we needed to make a change. I felt this was the right time.
Did it enter my mind [during the summer] that we needed a fresh voice, maybe new ideas? [No], I like Peter. I thought he deserved another opportunity. We made some changes during the summer that got us all excited. It was a fleeting thought [to fire Laviolette during the summer]. But at the end of the day, I just think - going back, I think it was the right thing to do at the time, too: to start training camp, start the year with Peter. I just didn't like what I was seeing [now], and it's a gut decision.
This is just a gut feeling on my part. Right now, we're just not playing the way we have to play. We're not playing well enough to win in the National Hockey League, and that's got to change. Now, whether it's fresh ideas or a new voice, I'm not going to try to sit here and pinpoint - that's up to Craig. That's his job. But I didn't like the direction the team was heading [in], and I think we needed a change.
I think Peter worked his hardest to try to get things turned around. He's as frustrated as all of us right now... When I met with him this morning he expressed his frustration about trying everything. He gave it all he could to try to get things turned around.
Sometimes that happens in all sports that teams need fresh ideas or a new voice, or whatever. Peter Laviolette worked his ass off for the Flyers, and it just came to that point where, as I said, it was a gut feeling on my part where I felt we needed to make a change.
I believe in our players, and I said earlier that I'm not going to let them off the hook, because at the end of the day, they didn't do their job either. But I still believe in our players - we have good players, we just need to play better.
There was a reason each time [a coach has been fired in his time owning the team]. The general manager at the time - and Paul now - made decisions. They thought that we needed coaching changes and they made them. Period. Of course I approved them. They [the coaches] work for the general manager, and if the general manager feels he has to make a change, I approve it. It's as simple as that. It's not any more complicated than that.
Obviously it may be a mistake [to hire a coach who ends up being fired], but it wasn't a mistake with Peter Laviolette. He did a very good job for us. But right now, we've been struggling, and we think we need a change. I'm a fan of Peter Laviolette - I think he did some very good things for this organization. It's a tough day when you have to let somebody go. But Paul felt it was time to make a change, and I would never say to Paul, "You can't make a change."
It's Paul's job to make these kinds of decisions. From my own point of view, I'm very disappointed in the start that we've had, and quite frankly I was very disappointed in the preseason that we had. I'm hoping for better. We always try to make the team as good as we possibly can, and sometimes we're not right. Hopefully this time it will work out on our behalf.
We haven't won a championship [since 1975], but we've been in the Stanley Cup Final a lot of times, and we've been in the playoffs a lot of times. That's our culture. No, we don't need a fresh perspective, We have a pretty good culture, and we know who we're dealing with.