Flyers fire coach Stevens, name Laviolette as replacement Staff

12/5/2009 8:23:13 AM

The Philadelphia Flyers, losers of three straight games and six of their last seven, fired head coach John Stevens on Friday.

Peter Laviolette was later introduced as the team's next head coach.

The 45-year-old will make his debut behind the Flyers' bench on Saturday when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously this is a great opportunity. I am really excited," said Laviolette. “The Flyers are an organization that has a lot of tradition and a lot of history. This is just an exciting time for me and my family and we are really looking forward to it."

"Peter Laviolette brings experience along with a different approach to the game," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "We look forward to him putting his stamp on the team quickly and getting our team headed in the right direction."

This will be Laviolette's third stint as an NHL head coach, having previously been behind the bench of the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes.

During Laviolette's tenure in New York from 2001-03, the Islanders lost in the first round of the playoffs in both years. In Carolina, he took over for current Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice, who was fired 30 games into the 2003-04 season.

Over four-plus seasons, the Hurricanes made the playoffs just once under his direction but it resulted in a Stanley Cup championship in 2005-06, the first year after the lock-out.

He has compiled winning regular season records for every NHL team he has coached, including a .683 winning percentage in 2005-06.

The Flyers were considered Stanley Cup contenders in October but have lost six of their last seven games to fall to 10th place in Eastern Conference with a record of 13-11-1.

After six years as head coach of the AHL's Philadephia Phantoms, Stevens was named head coach of the Flyers early in 2006-07, taking over for Ken Hitchcock early in the season.

The Flyers missed the playoffs that first year but the following season, they advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, losing out to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Last year, the Flyers were eliminated by the Penguins in the first round, putting more pressure on Stevens and his team to produce entering this season.

"This was a very difficult decision for me to make given my relationship with John. I want to thank him for his service to the Flyers organization over the years. However, in watching the team over the past few weeks I felt a new voice was needed in order to get us out of this and in the direction we expect," said Holmgren.

"I know this was a very difficult decision for Paul to make. And, I really feel bad for John because he's been a terrific long-time member of our organization," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. "I was hoping that the team would play better and that this could have been avoided, but after last night's game, I think Paul felt he had to make this change. I make it a policy never to overrule my general manager, because once I do, it means I've lost confidence in him. I really want to wish John the best."

Laviolette is the 17th coach in Flyers history.