Holmgren, Snider, Luukko et al. must be considering throwing Laviolette under the bus. Yes, there are lots of injuries, but that is the reason you hire a head coach, to figure out how to win with the talent you have on the ice.
We are 3-5-0 or .375 in a 48 game season, which would be something like 5-9-0 in an 82 game season. The Flyers are 17% through the shortened season, you've got to believe Homer is getting itchy to change directions. Yes, we had a nice win against Carolina, but that doesn't mean Lavvy or Homer is off the hot seat.
History repeats itself, we have been here before. Clarke refused to fire Hitchcock, after Hitchcock went 1-6-1 (or .143) for last place in the division after only 10% of the season went by. Holmgren got promoted and hired the Phantom's (then) winning coach, John Stevens. Stevens made it 30% through his last season, iced after going 13-11-1 and sitting last place in the division. Holmgren then hired Lavviolette. The current situation is much closer to the Hitchcock turmoil.
Laviolette is the second NHL Head Coach Holmgren has ever hired and Holmgren must still believe that the Flyers' best chance for a Cup is with Lavvy (otherwise Holmgren would have booted Laviolette out already). However, Holmgren has got to be considering a coaching change if things don't turn around fast. There are precious few direction changing deals to be made for team changing big-name players (it could happen, but most every team thinks they are playoff bound right now).
Recently, Paddock was clearly forced onto the coaching staff from above. Clearly. He was assigned coaching responsibilities that appear to be totally duplicitous: “concentrating on defense” (which is McCarthy's job) and serving as an “eye in the sky” during games (which is Joey Mullen’s job). So, it’s virtually certain that he was sent down to the coaching staff because there were concerns from above about the defense.
Lavy coaches a pressure system that emphasizes attacking the puck aggressively all over the ice. That system can generate terrific offense but comes at the cost of exposing the D. Perhaps his pressure system just won’t work if the system is tweaked to be more defensive oriented. The Flyers D stats this year have actually been rather good. It’s the offense that has suffered. Perhaps that’s because Lavy’s system requires playing at the “edge of the envelope” to be successful with anything less than that removes the split second hesitation on the part of the opposition that makes the system effective.
Who could replace Laviolette? Some immediate options for Holmgren are not hard to find. John Paddock has a cubicle down the hall from Holmgren, and Terry Murray is on speed dial. Doubtful Holmgren has confidence in Berube, Mullen or McCarthy, see the Paddock analysis above. Two other very dark horses with coaching experience, also found around the office water cooler, would be Tocchet (talking head) and McIlhargey (scout).
There is a strong argument to giving Lavvy a chance to see what he can do this season. Canning a coach is for one of two reasons (at least for the Flyers who actually do try to win championships): To win the Cup this year or to structure the organization to have a better shot in the future. This season is so short, it’s hard to imagine a new coach being able to come in and be effective this year. Especially if the system he uses is the issue. And how would replacing Lavy with a current member of the coaching staff change the system anyway?
So, if Holmgren and Snider want to give up on the season and change the Flyer's current system of play for the long term, that leaves either someone within the organization from outside the current staff (Terry Murray or “sort of” John Paddock) or someone from the outside all together. I don’t think there are any terrific candidates who could realistically be expected to turn things around quickly in this short season. So, this would have to be a long-term move. That requires a good option for head coach and the Flyers missed that boat letting Hitch go.
The real question to ask now is if it’s time to get a new G.M. It’s a new system under a new CBA coming up. Homer clearly struggled working under the salary cap in the old CBA. The new one has removed much of the wiggle room that he was able to exploit. And that is what happend to Bobby Clarke and Ken Hitchcock.
I would have to think it's only a matter of a one or two more losses before Terry Murray is getting picked up by the Phantoms-Flyers taxi service (apparently driven by Ben Holmstrom, just back from AC). However, the Flyers' Taxi may be busy dropping Holmgren off at the bus station.
Which leaves me to the final question, does that mean Riley Cote will be head coach of the Phantoms?
*Shout out to Ted W. for help writing this Fan Post*