Kukla's Korner

Iced Coffey

Getting late early in Philadelphia

Three games and six days.

That's all the time Peter Laviolette got with the Philadelphia Flyers before being dismissed Monday morning, thus becoming the first coaching casualty of the 2013-14 season.

But in reality, you can't look at the decision as either hasty or rash. We all are aware that the rejiggered division alignment was going to make things stickier in the Eastern Conference, what with the Red Wings joining the mix for the eight playoff berths. So, for a team like the Flyers, one that disappointed in a big way during the truncated 2013 season and then went out and added Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit, the expectations were there in plain sight.

Getting off to an 0-3 start -- and not looking good doing it -- certainly didn't help Laviolette, whose team looked to be making the same mistakes that were so apparent last season.

Say this about the Flyers, they are unafraid to make changes. GM Paul Holmgren has made plenty of trades and signed lots of free agents to get the Flyers over the hump and bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia for the first time since the mid-1970s. So far, all he has to show for it was a berth in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final that ended in disappointment.

Ed Snider, the Flyers' owner, is about as passionate an owner as you could hope to find. He also is 80 years old and wants to win another Cup much sooner rather than later. He dismissed last season as a fluke when he discussed Laviolette's future with reporters during the pre-season, but wasn't ready to fall any further in the standings to see if the Flyers could get going this season.

"Quite frankly, I was disappointed in the preseason we had," Snider said. "I'm hoping for better. We always try to make  the team as good as we possibly can. Sometimes we're not right."

So you start over, even if it's three games into the season.

Spin cycle: Every team does it, but it's funny the way reality differs depending on your point of view. Regarding the dismissal of Laviolette, the headlines were pretty unanimous: "Laviolette fired". Until you went to the Flyers' web site where the headline was "Craig Berube named flyers head coach". 

That's certainly part of the story, but the PR beast continues to accentuate the positive no matter how silly it looks.

I remember working at NHL.com the night Ray Bourque was traded to the Colorado Avalanche and the press release from the Boston Bruins read "Bruins acquire Brian Rolston". Again, technically true, but by no means even close to the real story.

All fired up -- Anyone who watched Patrick Roy compete as a player wasn't surprised to see him slamming the glass and yelling at Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau during their season opener. Cripes, the Avs were up big and Roy was still steamed. But that's part of the package when you opt to hire Roy as your head coach, and that's not a bad thing.

Roy will keep everyone around him accountable, be they foes, officials or his own players. Plus, he brings some juice back to Denver, where the Avalanche had become afterthoughts. It will be interesting to see if Roy remains as demonstrative over the course of a long season. With a young team, Roy may learn that a calm, in-control persona may be the better fit and save the histronics for special occasions.

But you also have to wonder if anyone in the Avalanche organization has the moxie to call him on it if his emotions begin to get in the way. 

In addition to being fiery, Roy also is very smart, so expect him to adapt into a solid NHL coach. But based on first impressions, his act bears watching, which is one of the reasons he was hired in the first place.

Staying above the fray -- Big doings coming in Vancouver Tuesday night when Cory Schneider returns as a New Jersey Devil to take on Roberto Luongo and the hometown Canucks for the first time since the Draft day trade in June.

But it may disappoint you to learn that should things get tense both goalies aren't likely to be growling at one another. 

Despite the intense scrutiny that comes with playing in Canada, both goaltenders avoided the debate over who should be top dog for the Canucks. If you think about it, that's a pretty logical strategy. In any of these situations, all you can do is play your best, block out the noise and let the chips fall where they may.

“It’s something we kind of were forced to deal with,” Schneider told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “It’s not that we wanted to or we chose to. It was just how it is and that’s life playing hockey in Canadian cities. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the reality. You just have to find the best way to deal with it and compartmentalize it and focus on what you’re doing on the ice.

"I hope that I’ve learned something from playing there, both things I can improve upon and things I can continue doing. I do think it was a good experience kind of growing up and learning how to play the game there.”

Schneider lauded Luongo's professionalism.

“He was really open and kind of embraced me as a younger guy when he was playing a lot of games and I think it helps when your team is having success,” Schneider told Gulitti. “If we’re both playing well and we’re winning games, it doesn’t matter which one of us is in net. I think it’s a little bit easier to sort of say, ‘Hey, we’re all playing for the same team and heading toward the same goal.’ Obviously, everyone wants to play, but when your teammate’s having success, you don’t want to take away from that.” 

“He’s a great guy, down to earth,” Luongo told The Record. “That’s why we got along so well and we were able to make the situation here work over the last couple of years. I don’t think it was an easy situation for either of us by any means, but the fact that we had a really good friendship and we were aware of what was going on, we just made it work the best way we could.”

Smart guys.

Up next: Will weigh in on the debate over the future of fighting in the next couple days. Just want to get all the ducks in a row and make a logical argument since my thoughts on this have changed rather dramatically of late.

Filed in: | Iced Coffey | Permalink


shanetx's avatar

Liked the column and generally agreed with all of your thoughts… except this one:

Roy will keep everyone around him accountable, be they foes, officials or his own players

How?  He’s started by not holding himself accountable.  He flat out denied doing something there’s clearly video evidence of him doing and called a more established, more respected coach a liar in the process.  That’s surely a shaky foundation for accountability.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 10/07/13 at 02:47 PM ET

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About Iced Coffey

Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.

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