Two bits from of Pierre LeBrun of ESPN made news yesterday: First, to no one's surprise...
A source told me Monday morning that Laviolette and the players were no longer on the same page, and that's not shocking when you saw how they played in the opening three games. The players seemed to be waiting for the coach to be fired. It makes you wonder why the Flyers didn't make this change last spring, after the Flyers missed the playoffs.
Not shocking to hear. Who knows whether or not it's true, and I certainly don't think LeBrun is lying to us here, but as some noted yesterday even before this article was posted, what percentage of coach firings aren't followed by some statement just like this one within hours or days of it happening, if not even before it happens?
Maybe it's true, maybe it's not and was just leaked by a Flyers "source" to make it easier for fans to accept the decision, but who the hell knows. Wouldn't at all be surprised either way.
This next paragraph from LeBrun was a bit more noteworthy ...
I believe one factor in Laviolette's firing was an organizational concern that some young players on the team -- namely Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn -- were not developing properly, or as rapidly as anticipated. The Flyers traded away Carter and Richards because they truly believed Couturier and Schenn were capable of supporting star center Giroux as the team redeveloped its core. It just hasn't worked out that way so far.
(First of all, that second sentence seems a little off to me. Couturier was seen as a top-5 talent in the 2011 draft, and the fact that he dropped to the Flyers' pick at No. 8 was as an upset. I don't think that the Flyers planned on getting him when they traded Richards and Carter, and that their plans changed when he fell because he was too good of a prospect to pass up. But that's not entirely relevant here, so let's move on.)
Despite some good things happening for both of them last year, the sophomore seasons of Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were generally seen as disappointments by a lot of people, likely due in no small part to the fact that both of them basically went the entire month of March without scoring a point. But the idea that the team wasn't happy with how Laviolette was helping them progress, while new, isn't that surprising, is it?
It's well-chronicled that Couturier was maddeningly stapled to the bench for periods or games at a time last year, and it seemed like Schenn was moved to a different line or position every other game. Neither of them was put in a position to succeed a lot last year -- moreso true for Couturier than Schenn, given that he was facing some of the tougher defensive minutes in the NHL -- and it's fair to ask if the coach was doing everything he could to help them succeed.
I get that the coach's primary motivation is to do what he thinks will win his team games now and not necessarily do what's best for the long-term development of his team's players. He's going to give the most minutes to the guys who he thinks will win him games. But when Mike Knuble is getting more minutes than Sean Couturier in the most important game of the season, there's a pretty good chance he's just not evaluating his forwards well, which is obviously not conducive to either the long-term OR the short-term.
Ultimately, the Flyers have more at stake in their two young centers than they did in their coach, and if this news from LeBrun is to be believed, that idea is part of why the coach is gone now.