Flyers Notes: Holmgren: Vote of confidence for Laviolette

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette yelling to his players during a recent game. The Flyers, who play at the Islanders on Tuesday, are in the middle of a stretch in which they will play five of six games on the road. They are 5-13-1 in games away from home.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette yelling to his players during a recent game. The Flyers, who play at the Islanders on Tuesday, are in the middle of a stretch in which they will play five of six games on the road. They are 5-13-1 in games away from home. (Canadian Press)
Posted: April 17, 2013

MONTREAL - Forget the rumors about Peter Laviolette's being fired after the season.

It sounds as if the Flyers' fiery coach is staying.

Without formally announcing it, general manager Paul Holmgren gave Laviolette a strong vote of confidence in Montreal on Monday.

Asked whether he planned to make a coaching change after the season, Holmgren was succinct.

"I haven't even thought along those lines," he told The Inquirer in a phone conversation. "I think it's been a difficult year because of the [injury] situation. We haven't had our whole team all year.

"I don't blame the coaches."

After Monday's morning skate, Holmgren said he expects Laviolette to be his coach next season.

Laviolette, who has two more years on his contract, downplayed Holmgren's comments.

"We have to focus on what we can control, and that's the game tonight," Laviolette said.

"I don't think about that too much," he said when asked whether he felt relieved to get a vote of confidence. "We've got a big game and that's way more important."

The players seemed to like the news that Laviolette will return.

"I like Lavy. I like the way he approaches the game, the way he approaches us to get ready for the game," winger Scott Hartnell said after the morning skate. "I like the person he is. Everyone respects him. It's not his fault the way we've come out and played."

The Flyers went into Monday 17-21-3 and on a four-game losing streak; they will miss the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.

"Am I happy with the players and our season? No," Holmgren said. "Am I happy we're not in the playoffs? No. But I think the coaches have done a good job under the circumstances."

Defenseman Luke Schenn credited Laviolette with his development this season. After a slow start, Schenn has arguably been the team's best defenseman in the last month.

"Coaches can be a little sarcastic and negative toward you, but the whole time he's been nothing but positive, even though sometimes you go through struggles as a team or an individual with ups and downs," Schenn said. "You have that positivity, it's a lot easier to get out of that funk.

"It's not always easy to be positive in a situation like this, but guys want to play for a guy who has their back."

"He shouldn't have the blame in any way, shape or form," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "He doesn't go out there and play the game. He draws up X's and O's, and we're the ones who have to execute. It's been our problem this year."

After replacing John Stevens early in the 2009-10 season, Laviolette directed the Flyers to a 28-24-5 record, and that team made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers went 47-23-12 (winning the Atlantic) and 47-26-9 the next two seasons before falling flat in this lockout-shortened season.

Said captain Claude Giroux: "Lavy's a good coach. He knows how to win. He won a Cup before [in Carolina], and we have a lot of confidence in him and what he can do. I don't think nobody hates him here."


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com.

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