Capitals react to Flyers' firing of Laviolette

Capitals react to Flyers' firing of Laviolette
October 7, 2013, 6:15 pm
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When the Flyers fired Peter Laviolette and replaced him with former Capitals enforcer Craig Berube on Monday morning, it didn’t take long for the news to travel south on I-95 and into the Capitals’ dressing room.

The reaction was pretty much what you’d expect when a team fires a coach after just three games, the quickest hook since Bill Gadsby left the 1969-70 Red Wings after two games.

“It’s interesting,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It could have been something building up over the years that we don’t know about. But three games in, that’s tough. It’s a little confusing, but I don’t know all the details behind it.”

Flyers owner Ed Snider told reporters he thought his team had its worst training camp he had ever seen and general manager Paul Holmgren said the Flyers simply didn’t look like a team in their first three games, all losses.

But still…

“Three games,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “I would imagine there’s more to it, but what do I know?”

Capitals fans know all about Berube, who is getting his first crack at an NHL head coaching job at the age of 47.

Berube played in more games with the Capitals [419] than any other team in his 18-year playing career, and he piled up 1,220 penalty minutes in parts of seven seasons in Washington.

Immediately after retiring as a player in 2004, Berube jumped into coaching, first as an assistant and later as a head coach of the AHL Phantoms, and most recently as an assistant coach with the Flyers.

Two summers ago Berube interviewed for the vacant Capitals job, thought he had it, but eventually lost it to Oates.

“He’s been in coaching a long time,” said Oates, a teammate of Berube’s from 1996-99 and again in 2000-01. “Obviously, he knows what he’s doing. Congrats to him. It’s a shame someone got fired, but congrats to him.”

Laviolette’s firing was the fastest to start a season since Denis Savard was dismissed by the Chicago Blackhawks just four games into the 2008-09 season. Savard was replaced by Joel Quenneville, who has won two Stanley Cups with the Hawks since taking over.

Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer was starting his first full NHL season in Chicago at the time of Savard’s firing.

“You could kind of see it coming because they hired Quenneville as the head scout,” Brouwer said. “At the end of the day it’s business.”

That said, Brouwer seemed to recognize that Laviolette was on the hot seat even before his fifth season in Philadelphia began.

“As a coach you’re going into a season in an extremely tough situation,” he said. “I can’t imagine how hard it is when you know that one slip-up and you’re done. That’s their internal decision, but you don’t see it happen very often.”