But firing Laviolette three games into the season? Three?
Hardly anyone saw that coming. It was the quickest NHL firing since 1969, when the Red Wings axed Bill Gadsby after a 2-0 start. (Yes, 2-0.)
Laviolette's Flyers were 0-3 and were outscored, 9-3. It is just the fourth time in franchise history - and the second year in a row, both on Laviolette's watch - that the Flyers have lost their first three games.
No one is arguing that Laviolette's system had grown stale, that the players seemed disinterested, that he set the franchise back with the impatience he showed with goalie Sergei Bobrovksy.
But if you are going to fire a guy after only three games - three games! - why wasn't it done after last season so the players could have given new coach Craig "Chief" Berube all of training camp to implement his system?
"There's no question in my mind that anybody looking at this from the outside looking in would say three games is totally unfair," said Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor. "But quite honestly, training camp was a disaster. I've been at 47 training camps and I've never seen one that I thought was worse. Now that's not talking about Peter. That's talking about our players - and it carried right over to the first three games of the season. It's not simply the three games that we saw. There's more to it than that."
Compounding matters, from the brass' perspective, was that the Flyers missed the playoffs last year for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.
Holmgren, who appears to be on the hot seat himself, has had a quick trigger in the past. He fired Laviolette's predecessor, John Stevens, after 25 games in 2009-10. The Flyers were 13-11-1 at the time and their record was hindered by the fact that goalie Ray Emery was playing injured.
Most observers figured Laviolette would get at least 10 games this season, but Holmgren reached his boiling point with each lackluster period.
The Flyers not only started 0-3, but they did it while healthy and while facing teams that had key players missing - Toronto was without the suspended David Clarkson, Montreal was without the injured Max Pacioretty and George Parros, and Carolina was minus the injured Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen and Tuomo Ruutu.
In the opener, a 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, the Flyers outplayed the Leafs but got beaten by a hot goalie, Jonathan Bernier. But their play deteriorated in Montreal and Carolina. They looked slow, were unable to get any cycle working, and were badly outshot and outworked.
Holmgren said he overlooked last season because of the lockout, the fact that there was virtually no training camp, and because the Flyers were hindered by injuries.
"I thought it was important that Peter had another shot with our training camp," he said. "I think some of the additions we made this summer were good additions - Ray Emery, Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit. There was some excitement about our team going into training camp. And right from day one of training camp, I was concerned about how the team looked."
He called the Flyers' play "unacceptable" in the first three games.
"We don't look like a team at all," Holmgren said. "And I felt, just a gut feeling, I had to make the decision. I made the decision [Sunday] night on the plane when we came back from Carolina and here we are."
Where are they?
Hoping they finally have the right coach and goaltender(s) in place. If not, the next person to take the blame figures to be Holmgren because no one is left to take a bullet for him.