Better With Popcorn

Holmgren Tells Inquirer Laviolette Will Not Get Fired

It's going to be a longer off season for the Flyers than they're used to. 

Among the topics heading into the off season is the job security of head coach Peter Laviolette. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren reassured the safety of his head coach.

Via Sam Carchidi's article this morning:

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

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

Holmgren made these comments after the Flyers' morning skate in Montreal. They take on the Canadiens tonight at 7:30.

Laviolette's position as head coach was under question all season. There were instances this season the team seemed to not respond to their coach.

With the Flyers all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, this will be the first time under Laviolette's reign that the Flyers will miss the post season. Laviolette was hired during the 2009-10 season to help revive the Flyers from a possible bad season, lifting them to their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1997.

Laviolette has two more years left on his current contract. Much like players Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov have expressed this past week -- both are expected to be bought-out at season's end to free up significant cap space -- Laviolette knows he can't worry about things he cannot control.

"We have to focus on what we can control, and that's the game tonight," Laviolette said today. He added, "I don't think about that too much. We've got a big game, and that's way more important."

One of the players endorsed the decision to keep Laviolette on for another season. Scott Hartnell, who has seen the best and worst side as far as being in favor with the team, likes playing under Laviolette.

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

Perhaps Hartnell is right. The blame can't be put on Laviolette, who has had to deal with all the injuries he did this season.

The Flyers lineup is currently without three of its top five defensemen in Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann and Andrej Meszaros. They are also currently missing Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo and have speant a significant part of the season with Hartnell and Briere.

Add in the sophomore slumps of a trio of 2011-12 rookie sensations, a newly assigned captain playing without a consistent top-line scorer and goaltending situation envied by no one in the league, the Flyers' 2013 season was just one big giant ball of bad luck.

The 2013 off season will be one of the most heavily-scrutinized periods for the Flyers in recent memory. It'll also be the most important for Holmgren, who needs to use the potential buy-out money to help plug the gaps in the defense and find Claude Giroux some scoring help.

As for Laviolette, the following season will be his most-watched during his tenure in Philadelphia. Another season without success could cost him his job behind the bench.

And if this off season is a waste, Holmgren may be right behind him.


Follow John Russo (@Roose_TCL) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter