Laviolette replaced John Stevens on Dec. 4, 2009 and guided the Flyers to an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals that season. This past season, despite some inconsistency from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers finished third in the rugged Atlantic Division and had a spirited first-round win over Pittsburgh. They were thumped in the second round by New Jersey and will drag a 38-year championship drought into the 2012-13 season. That is, if the players and management can hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. The current deal expires Sept. 15.
The Flyers were in the hunt for free agent forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter before both opted for Minnesota. They signed defenseman Shea Weber to an offer sheet, but lost him too when Nashville matched it.
They lost Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr in free agency and dealt James van Riemsdyk for defenseman Luke Schenn. They also added defenseman Bruno Gervais and winger Ruslan Fedotenko, who seems to win Stanley Cups everywhere he's been. Except here.
"There are probably a lot of teams that wish they had a player of [Shea Weber's] caliber on their club," Laviolette said. "Our team moved forward without Shea last year. We dealt with certain injuries and things that I think our club had to overcome. We used a lot of good, young defensemen and a lot of good players. I am excited about the players that we brought into the fold this year ... I feel good about the players that we have under contract and moving forward."
Laviolette, in just two-plus seasons, already is seventh in franchise history with 221 games coached. Assuming a full season is played, he will move into third place in January behind only Fred Shero and Mike Keenan.
"I was really excited to come to a market like Philadelphia, and an organization like this with the history, the ownership, and working for Paul," Laviolette said. "I'm as excited today as I was back then about being able to move forward. There's a great group of players here and to come back and be able to continue to work here is where I want to be. Philadelphia is a big market and I was really excited back then and I'm still really excited about that."
Paul Holmgren said defenseman Andrej Meszaros is "fine." Meszaros missed the final 2 months of the season, but came back for the series-clinching loss to the Devils ... Holmgren also expects to reach a deal soon with free agent defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, who had four goals in 45 games last year as a rookie ... Kings forward Justin Williams, a Ventnor resident, is bringing the Stanley Cup to Caesars in Atlantic City on Thursday (groan). Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg brought the trophy there last year (double groan).
Contact Ed Barkowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.