By Dan Gelston
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Despite a preseason vote of confidence from ownership, the Philadelphia Flyers today fired coach Peter Laviolette after an 0-3 start.
The Flyers made the announcement at a morning news conference, less than a day after Philadelphia dropped a 2-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Assistant Craig Berube, in his seventh season with the organization, will take over as coach. He is the Flyers’ 18th coach in team history.
Laviolette dealt with rumors of his firing last season, a year in which the Flyers missed the playoffs after the lockout shortened the campaign. It was the only season in which he failed to make the postseason in Philadelphia. He was hired early in the 2009 season after John Stevens was fired, and led the Flyers on an improbable run to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
Laviolette won the Stanley Cup coaching the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and previously coached the New York Islanders.
He received a vote of confidence from Flyers chairman Ed Snider shortly before the season started.
“As far as Peter is concerned, last year was an anomaly,” he said. “He’s been a very good coach for us, he’s been a good coach in this league.”
Laviolette signed a two-year extension last season that was set to take him through 2014-15. He’s just the second coach in Flyers history to coach parts of five seasons.
He’s set to serve as an assistant coach under Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma for the United States in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and has coaching experience with USA Hockey.
Laviolette led the Flyers to three straight playoff appearances before they stumbled last season. The Flyers went 23-22-3 and were 10th in the Eastern Conference with 49 points last year, and couldn’t recover from a slow start. There was no apparent improvement the first three games of this season. The Flyers lost their opener at home last week to Toronto, then lost games on consecutive days over the weekend to Montreal and Carolina. They were outscored 9-3.
“I would think guys are probably pretty frustrated,” Laviolette said Sunday night. “Offensively, if you’re not scoring, everything’s got to be perfect on the defensive side of things.”
In a bleak time in city sports, Laviolette’s firing means all four Philadelphia teams have changed coaches in the last year. Eagles coach Chip Kelly, hired in January, is now the dean of Philadelphia coaches.