Flyers' Laviolette remembers first day as head coach - Sept. 11, 2001

Peter Laviolette ran his first practice as rookie coach of the Islanders on 9/11.
Peter Laviolette ran his first practice as rookie coach of the Islanders on 9/11.
Posted: September 11, 2011

Peter Laviolette, then a wide-eyed, first-time NHL head coach, does not have fond memories of his initial practice.

It happened to be held on Sept. 11, 2001.

At the time he learned of the attacks, Laviolette, then 36, was coaching the New York Islanders as they began working out in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"I was probably two minutes into my first training camp," Laviolette, the Flyers coach, said Friday. "Day 1. I'll never forget."

As more news began filtering back to the arena, Laviolette decided to continue with his practice plans.

"We went through our thing," said Laviolette, whose Flyers begin rookie camp Monday in Voorhees. "I didn't get back into my room and turn on the TV - really sit down and take it all in - until later in the afternoon . . . to find out the devastation that happened that day."

Laviolette decided to continue with training camp. He meant no disrespect to those who were killed and their families. He just thought his players needed a sense of normalcy.

"Once we found out our families were OK . . . sometimes it's best to get together and come in and sweat and work together as opposed to being alone and just thinking about things," he said. "We continued to work."

For Laviolette, Wednesday's plane crash in western Russia, which killed almost an entire Kontinental Hockey League team - one composed of many former NHL players - rekindled the horrors of 9/11.

The tragedies "shake you . . . and make you thankful for every day of your life," he said.

On Saturday, an estimated 100,000 attended a memorial service in Yaroslavl for the victims of the plane crash.

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