May 18, 2010, 3:15 PM EST
Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins were floundering to the point that it looked like the eventual Stanley Cup champions wouldn’t even make the playoffs. Finally, out of desperation, the team decided to fire coach Michel Therrien in favor of minor league success Dan Bylsma. The rest is now a part of burrito-powered history. Could it be that the Penguins’ cross-state rivals in Philadelphia might be pulling off a similar feat after switching from John Stevens to former Carolina Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette?
Cup or not, it’s clear that the team – and the coach – are going through a serious renaissance. Mike Chen of From the Rink details the bold-thinking coach’s success in the City of Brotherly Love.
But just a year after his demise in Carolina, the coach – who has been a winner at every level – was in Philadelphia building another winner. That’s not to say that everything has been smooth sailing in the City of Brotherly Love, it’s been difficult. Goalie after goalie has been injured. Other players have had a tough time staying in the lineup.
Yet Laviolette is back where he usually is, in the thick of things in the playoffs.
Either the coach has learned to change things up and make adjustments, or the league forgot how to defense his “helter skelter” style of hockey.
… And after one game in the Eastern Conference Finals, his team has been able to do something Washington and Pittsburgh could not do, obliterate Montreal’s trap.
Oddly enough, Laviolette seems to be an argument both for and against the nearly league-wide tendency to fire coaches with reckless abandon. He’s been the victim of itchy trigger fingers and, yet, also a clear beneficiary. Aside from Lindy Ruff in Buffalo and Barry Trotz in Nashville, few coaches have anything resembling job security.
From the looks of things, though, even if Laviolette isn’t the Flyers coach for that long, someone will eventually snap him up and start the strange cycle of success all over again.
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