Slow start costs Laviolette in Philly, Berube named coach

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Updated: 10/07/2013 3:56 pm

Philadelphia, PA ( - The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head coach Peter Laviolette after an 0-3 start to the season and replaced him with assistant Craig Berube.

General manager Paul Holmgren made the announcement Monday morning at a news conference.

The Flyers have scored just once in each of their three losses, including Sunday's 2-1 setback to Carolina.

"I made the decision (Sunday) night on the plane," said Holmgren on Monday. "I did not like the direction the team was heading, so we made the change. It was a gut feeling on my part."

It's the quickest coaching change in the NHL since 1969 when the Detroit Red Wings replaced Bill Gadsby after two games. More recently, the Chicago Blackhawks fired Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the 2008-09 season.

"We have some work to do," added Holmgren. "I'm not going to let the players off the hook. Things have to get better and they will."

Laviolette took over behind the Flyers bench in December 2009 and guided the club to a surprising Stanley Cup Finals appearance that season. He was given a multi-year contract extension in August 2012, but the Flyers stumbled during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, failing to make the playoffs with a 23-22-3 record.

Philadelphia also began last season with three straight losses and never got above .500 until the final game of the season.

Holmgren said he briefly considered making a change during the summer, but thought the offseason moves would help jump-start the team.

"It was a fleeting thought," Holmgren said, but he quickly dismissed the idea.

Berube had just begun his seventh season as a Flyers assistant and is in his 17th overall campaign with the organization. He was a player from 1986-91 and again from 1998-2000, and also served as head coach of the club's AHL affiliate.

"I'm excited to have Craig coach the Philadelphia Flyers," Holmgren stated. "Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I've ever been around. He demands respect, he's a no BS kind of guy."

Berube, who helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in his rookie season of 1986-87, also played for Toronto, Calgary, Washington and the New York Islanders. He ranks seventh all-time in penalty minutes with 3,149 while compiling 159 points in 1,054 NHL games.

"It's a great honor," said Berube on Monday. "I've always been a Flyer in my mind and now I'm the head coach."

Regular-season success had not been an issue for Laviolette during his first two full seasons with the Flyers.

After falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Cup Finals, the Flyers produced a pair of 47-win seasons and more than 100 points each year, but suffered second-round playoff exits both times before last year's struggles.

"Peter did a very good job for us, but we've been struggling," said Flyers chairman Ed Snider.

Prior to joining the Flyers, Laviolette was the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, guiding the team to its one and only Stanley Cup championship in the spring of 2006. He took over the team during the 2003-04 season and was fired in December 2008.

Laviolette also coached the New York Islanders for two seasons from 2001-03, reaching the playoffs both years. He has had just one losing season as a head coach and owns a career record of 389-282-25-63.

Also, his clubs have gone 43-39 in the postseason and he was the head coach of the United States men's hockey team at the 2006 Olympics, which ended with a loss to Finland in the quarterfinals.

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