Michael DeNicola

 

If there's one recent thing a Flyers fan can count on, it's all this controversy behind each orange corner. 

The Jeff Carter trade rumors are at the highest I have seen in any off-season. Our boys walked away from the 2010-11 year with more injuries than a Gettysburg skirmish. There's more question marks in net than The Riddler's got on his kickass pajamas. And Laviolette left us with a less-than-impressed feeling leading into his contract-year as head coach. 

 

According to Peter's introductory agreement with the Flyers, the 2011-12 season is the last on his contract. Now the question is -- Has he deserved an extension?

When something like this comes to light, no one can help but step back and look at the positives and negatives that Lavvy's spread out on the dinner table in his career as puppeteer.  

  • He's won a Stanley Cup, so he knows how to get 'er done.
  • In less than a season with the Flyers, he managed to turn them around and steer the team positively into the Finals against the Blackhawks. We all know how that ended...
  • Laviolette's work ethic paralells with that of a drill sergeant and demands just as much respect and effort from his soldiers.

 

But let's focus on that last one for a moment. 

As the Flyers began their nose dive in the second half of the regular season, finger-pointing and excuses were shot around like LIVE action on the Jerry Springer Show. 

"Mike Richards couldn't captain a rowboat, let alone a hockey team!"

"Boucher sucks!"

"Bobrovsky's tired!"

"Where's the heart!?!?"

"Too much locker room controversy!"

 

We heard it all. But one stood out to me -- Has Laviolette pushed this team too hard, too early?

It's not a knock on Peter. It's just a simple question. The Flyers began outta the gate terrorizing, pillaging and burning through the competition like a clan of early vikings. But then came that drop off we all hoped was just a skid. Instead, that slump turned into a reflection of Corey Feldman's career. 

Down and down we witnessed our Flyers continue to go. A win here and there, but stretches of losses that lit worrisome camp fires deep within each of our psyches. Though we remained #1 in the Eastern standings until the last weeks of the season, doubt shrouded our expectations like a plague. 

Who's to blame? We gotta blame someone, right?

 

What if Laviolette did work his horse too hard? And not only that, but according to the recent injury news our Bullies' bodies began to erode months before our playoff exit. These were managed to be kept under raps. If you could imagine the frustration the injury bug forced between the comradery, then it shouldn't be any surprise that Laviolette may have lost the grip on his players. 

In fact, there's no "may" about it. Hell, it happened before our eyes. 

How did Laviolette plan to regain the loyalties of his players? By making some of the absolute worst decisions a coach could make in the post-season. 

 

Yanking Bobrovsky from the goal mouth like he was pulling on the leash of a hellbent canine then sticking him up in the press box still gets me heated.

Starting Leighton in a Do-Or-Die Game 6 almost makes me want to throw my computer through a coworker's head. Laviolette's the one to thank for me pissing off so many family members on Easter Sunday. I was a friggin' prick!

Or perhaps it was when he decided to match up Briere's line against Krecji's in the series versus Boston? 

I'm not saying we would have gotten through Buffalo a lot easier, or won the Best of Seven against the Bruins had he not made these foolish choices, but it certainly wouldn't draw as much doubt in my mind about the guy as I have now. That's all I'm saying. 

 

So when I get asked the question, "Hey, think we keep Lavvy behind the bench this year?" I can only respond with, "We'll see what he does early in the season next year."

Indeed. 

Laviolette will have such short slack on his rope come 2011-12, that he'll swear he's docked in a marina. And rightfully so. 

Look, everyone's a GM this time of the year. Especially when it all ended much shorter than you anticipated. Everyone's got an argument, and it's the right one. I may be a damn stupid ass to you because I'm putting too much blame on the head coach and not enough on the leaders of this team. YOU may be a stupid ass to me because I'm telling you that most of the blame's got to rest on the shoulders of the suits. 

The thing is this; Look at the history of head coaches this Flyers team has had. 

Go on. I'll wait while you reminisce...

Jeopardy theme

 

...See? Escaped convicts have longer tenures in their hideouts than most head coaches had with the Philadelphia Flyers. Goes to show you the men upstairs don't give a damn WHAT your name is -- You have a short window to get something done or we throw you back like an undersized fish. 

What makes you think any of that will change for Peter Laviolette?