For once, I know just how he feels.
"No, he's doing good,'' the coach said. "I really enjoyed it. And anytime you get a chance to be with them like that . . . and it's not just him. I got a chance to watch my daughter play soccer. And my other son, he got hurt, but I got a chance to watch him play before that. So it's good. You get a chance to do things with the family in the winter that you don't normally do. I don't know if it's necessarily a silver lining but it's a chance for me to get to hang out with my kids and go to a tournament, which I might not necessarily get to do.''
He's gone through this before. Back then, though, during the 2004-05 lockout, it was birthday parties and first days of school. Then, Laviolette was the newest coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, younger, hired midway through a tumultuous season that ended just short of a playoff berth.
"He was really a tough, tough coach," former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina's captain at the time, said in a profile I wrote about the coach last season. "He wasn't himself. But at the time, we didn't know that. He was kind of laying the law down making sure we knew who was boss. At least, that's the sense we got. And then we had the lockout . . . "
He spent the missed season evaluating his team and evaluating himself. You wonder what might have happened had Andy Reid taken that season off during his initial family crisis, if he might have tweaked his approach as Laviolette apparently did. We'll never know.
What we do know is there is no better coach to have for what is about to occur: 48 or 50 games in a little more than 3 months, and coaching a team after a lockout. Laviolette's best seasons as a coach came after the last lockout - when he led Carolina to its one and only Stanley Cup - and when he took over the Flyers halfway through the 2009-10 season and led them to within an overtime loss of Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals.
He seems to excel amid uncertainty. So you wonder - how?
"I think it's important to get everything on the table,'' he said. "I've been in situations where I've taken over halfway through the year where you have one practice to get things on the table. And there you can't get everything on the table, so you pick one thing or two things and it's a work in progress from there.''
That was 2010. That team played with an edge born of its frustrating first half, blocking shots at the expense of their health, and their looks. This team will be a more complicated mix - some veteran stars who have been made painfully aware of Father Time through this lockout, some kids who can and will skate forever, led by a soon-to-be-named captain who harkens back to a day when this game was played with less pretense and fewer teeth.
The Flyers have the same old questions on defense and Ilya Bryzgalov back in goal. But here's the silver lining: Your team comes back intact. Your team comes back with a nice mix of veterans still in search of that first Cup, and talented, energetic kids who assume their names will be etched on it a few times before they reach Kimmo Timonen's age. Your team already understands what the coach expects and what his system involves.
That's a whole lot different from the last time Laviolette had a half-season to work with.
"It was literally one day,'' he said. "There was no familiarity with me, or the system or the changes that are being made. It was learning on the fly. This is completely different. Everyone starts the same. One thing about those situations is that it was only a disadvantage to our team. Now everybody has the same amount of time. We're all in the same boat.''
Not exactly. The Flyers will have to figure out how much they can lean on the 37-year-old Timonen, whom the coach joked "got bigger'' during the lockout. He did not. Just older.
So, can a coach known to push, push, push manage this mix of kids and vets through a breathless schedule? Will Laviolette take a page from Gregg Popovich's playbook and give players like Kimmo a few nights off?
"You're asking about down the road,'' Laviolette said. "But if you're looking for a quick answer off the top of my head, my answer would be no. There'd be no ducking anything at that point. I figure guys are here to play. They want to play. They'd probably be mad if you took them out of the lineup. But you're talking about a scenario I hope we're in.''
On Twitter: @samdonnellon