I’m telling you– I’ve been doing it this way for years! I mean… it never actually works. But I’m just going to keep doing it, because I’m a monkey.
Full thing after the jump.
via the Flyers’ city-leading PR department
Flyers chairman Ed Snider – off-podium media availability
On the coaching change
Paul Holmgren’s the general manager. He hired the coach, and it’s his job to evaluate the coach, not mine. I want to make that perfectly clear. A lot of people think that I come in and say ‘you’ve got to fire the coach.’ No, I don’t. I’ve never done that. I have to approve it. But when anybody comes to me that’s in charge of a particular department in any of our companies and they want to make a move, I ask questions. But if I told the general manager that he can’t do what he wants to do, then obviously I have no confidence in the general manager. So [I approve it], maybe after a lot of questions. From my own point of view however, I really wasn’t happy last year but we blamed it on a lot of issues, and I think those issues were valid. We felt that Peter deserved an opportunity. As far as I was concerned, it was an anomaly. He’s a great coach, a great guy, works his butt off. But I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen. And I’m not talking about wins or losses. There was nothing exciting. Nobody shined. Nobody looked good. I couldn’t point to one thing that I thought was a positive coming out of training camp. Unfortunately my worries were realized in the first three games, scoring one goal in each game and looking disorganized. If it weren’t for our goalies I think it would have been a lot worse. Having said that, I still wouldn’t make a decision like that. When Paul called me last night, late, and told me what he felt he was going to do this morning, obviously I thought about it and asked him a lot of questions, and approved it.
Last month you said Peter was not on the hot seat. What changed?
To me, it was the training camp plus these three games, in my mind. But it isn’t me that made that decision, I want to emphasize.
When Paul comes to you, what would be the first question you ask?
I would say tell me what your thoughts are. And he did, and those are private.
Do you think three games was enough to give Laviolette a fair shot?
Well, as Paul said, it wasn’t three games. It was training camp, and a little bit left over from last year. And it’s not three losses, it’s the way our team played in those three losses.
If the players don’t play hard enough, isn’t it an indictment on the players?
That’s what we’re going to find out. Unfortunately in the business we’re in, the only way to find out is to make a change. You can’t get rid of all the players. This is why coaches lose their jobs, and sometimes lose them because of the players. But we don’t know that until we make a change. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong. We think our players are better than they’ve looked.
So you fire the coach because you can’t get rid of the players?
Yes. Show me a way to do that, we’ll be glad to do that instead.
Do you identify some of the players and get rid of them too?
Of course. We don’t talk about getting rid of them. We talk about can they play better, and why aren’t they.
Paul’s the one that brings in the players. How do you evaluate his job?
I’ll let you know. Right now we think we have better players than we’ve seen.
Does your confidence in Paul erode with something like this?
No. I think Paul did an excellent job over the summer with the three players he brought in. We had extremely high hopes for those three players and we still do. It remains to be seen if we were right or wrong.
On making the move three games into the season
Look, there’s no question in my mind that anybody looking at this from the outside looking in would say that three games is totally unfair. But quite honestly, like I said, training camp was a disaster. I’ve been at 47 training camps and I’ve never seen one that I thought was worse. Now that’s not talking about Peter, that’s talking about our players. And it carried right on over to the first three games of the season. It’s not simply the three games that we saw. There’s more to it than that. There’s a lot of things that I know that are private, but bottom line is that I have great respect for Peter Laviolette. I’m sorry this has happened to him. He’s a class act. He’s done a great job for us, got us to the Stanley Cup Finals, within a game of winning the damn thing. That’s why I love our culture, because we did get there.
Was there a sense of urgency that if this went on too long the season could slip away?
Yes. It happened last year to us. It was a short season, but we got off to a terrible start and we never recovered. We’re in a tough business. We’re in a fishbowl. When somebody gets fired in a widget factory, nobody cares. But when you’re in the fishbowl like this, and it’s news… I feel bad for Peter, and I feel sorry for his wife and kids. He doesn’t deserve it as such, to have that type of negative press, because he’s done a great job since he’s been here.
On hockey being different than other sports in terms of long-term coaches (specifically Andy Reid mentioned)
You know, football coaches don’t usually last as long as Andy did. He did a hell of a job for the Eagles. He didn’t win a title, but I think everybody was happy with the job he did. The point I’m making is we’re happy to an extent that we’re in the playoffs most every year, and we’re happy to an extent that we’ve been in the Stanley Cup Finals many, many years when we didn’t win. But we’re not thrilled, because we want to win a Stanley Cup. But everybody wants to win a Stanley Cup, everybody wants to win a Super Bowl, everybody wants to win an NBA championship and everybody wants to win a World Series. Everybody. It isn’t easy. But we never let it slide. And we get criticized for it, rightly so, when you fire somebody after three games, and we expect criticism. We deserve it. But the bottom line is we’re trying to win. And that’s why it’s been done. Because all we want to do is win for this city, win for our fans and win for our organization. That’s what we’re trying to do. There’s no secret here, there’s no devious thing here. We feel horrible when you’ve gotta fire a guy like Peter Laviolette. But the bottom line is we’re never going to quit. We’re always going to try to win.
On the training camp
It’s the same thing that you saw in our first three games. It’s carried over from training camp. I don’t have the magical answer. Is it our players? We’ll find out. Was it the coach? Unfortunately, as I said before, we can’t fire the players. So we have to find out, are we overrating our guys? We think we have good players. We think we have a good team. I don’t know if we’re overrating them. I really don’t.
Paul Holmgren: “Thank you all for being here today. Just to fill you in on the timeline of things here: I met with Peter Laviolette early this morning and informed him that he was being relieved of his duties as head coach. Right after that, I met with assistant coach Kevin McCarthy and told Kevin the same thing. After that, I met with Craig (Berube), and we talked, and I offered him the job to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Craig accepted, and here we are today.
“I think from a timeline standpoint of my decision, on making this change at such an early point in the season, I can go back a little bit to last year with my concerns on how the team played. Looking back, you think, lockout, shortened year, we didn’t have a training camp, we had a lot of injuries—I thought it was important that Peter had another shot with our training camp.
“I think some of the additions that we made this summer were good additions—Ray Emery, Vinny Lecavalier, and Mark Streit. I think there was some excitement about our team going into training camp, and right from day one of training camp I was concerned about how the team looked. 0-3 is 0-3; we still have a long way to go in terms of the season, but it was more about how we played, and it was unacceptable. We don’t look like a team at all.
“It was just a gut feeling that I needed to make the decision. I made the decision last night on the plane, when we were coming back from Carolina. Here we are today. I’m excited about the opportunity to have Craig coach the Philadelphia Flyers. Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I’ve ever been around. He’s learned the coaching business over the last nine years; he’s been a head coach with the Phantoms. He demands respect, he holds people accountable, and he’s a no B.S. kind of guy. I’m looking forward to Craig taking over the team starting today. We have some work to do—Craig has some work to do, he understands that. Our team—I’m not going to let the players off the hook. We’ll meet with them later today. Things have to get better, and they will.”
Craig Berube (CB): “First of all, I’d like to thank the Flyers organization—Mr. Snider, Peter Luukko, Paul Holmgren—for giving me the opportunity to coach the Flyers. It’s a great honor, it really is. I’ve always been a Flyer in my mind, and now I’m the head coach, so I’d like to thank them.
On the perception of frequent head coaching changes:
PH: “I’ve only been a part of a couple of those—well, maybe I was on the back end as a coach, but obviously, the expectations are big for the Flyers. We expect to be in the playoffs; we expect to win. Sometimes, that’s just the way the business goes. I’d be remiss to not thank Peter Laviolette for what he brought to the Philadelphia organization over the last three-plus seasons. I think Peter did a good job. He’s a good coach, and we wish him all the best. You know what, things weren’t going well, and we needed to make a change, and I felt that this was the right time.”
Ed Snider (ES): “Why do you want to go back to all of those coaches? There was a reason each time. The general manager at the time, and Paul now, made decisions. They felt that we needed coaching changes, and they made them. Period. That’s it.”
“But you approved those?”
ES: “Of course I approved them.”
“I’m just asking why that’s the case.”
ES: “They work for the general manager, and if the general manager feels that he has to make a change, I approve it. It’s as simple as that. It’s not any more complicated than that.”
“So is it mistakes? Mistakes by the organization when they hire this many?”
ES: “Obviously, it may be a mistake, but it wasn’t a mistake with Peter Laviolette. He did a very good job for us. But right now, we’ve been struggling, and we think we need a change. I’m a fan of Peter Laviolette. I think he did some very good things for this organization. It’s a tough day when you have to let somebody go, but Paul felt it was time to make a change, and I would never say to Paul, ‘you can’t make a change.'”
“Paul, you said that you thought about replacing (Peter Laviolette) after last season, did you seriously…”
PH: “No, not really. You think back—did it enter my mind that we needed something, maybe a fresh voice, maybe new ideas…? But I like Peter. I think that he deserved another opportunity. We made some changes in the summer that got us all excited. It was a fleeting thought. At the end of the day, going back—I think it was the right thing to do at the time. Start training camp, start the year with Peter—I just didn’t like what I was seeing. It was a gut decision.”
“What’s missing? You said that the team doesn’t look like a team. What’s missing? Why don’t they look like a team?”
PH: “This is just a gut feeling on my part. Right now, we’re just not playing the way we have to play. We’re not playing well enough to win in the National Hockey League, and that has to change. Whether it’s fresh ideas or a new voice, I’m not going to sit here and try to pinpoint that, that’s up to Craig. That’s his job. But I didn’t like the direction that the team was heading, and I felt we needed a change.”
“Did you consult any players before making that decision?”
“No players came to you about anything?”
PH: “No players. No.”
“Was there something that you were looking for from Laviolette?”
PH: “I think that Peter worked his hardest to try to get things turned around. He’s as frustrated as all of us right now. When I met with him this morning, he expressed his frustration about trying everything. He gave it all he could to try to get things turning around.”
“So is this more of a case of his message not getting through to the players?”
PH: “Maybe. Sometimes that happens, in all sports. Sometimes teams need fresh ideas, or a new voice, or whatever. Peter Laviolette worked his ass off for the Flyers. It just came to that point where I had a gut feeling on my part where I felt we needed a change.”
“This is not an interim tag, right?”
PH: “No, it’s not.”
“Did (Berube) sign a multi-year deal?”
PH: “Those things are internal. It’s more than this year, yes.”
“Ed, you said a few weeks ago that Peter wasn’t on the hot seat. What changed after three games, and did you share some of the concerns as Paul?”
ES: “First of all, it’s Paul’s job to make these kinds of decisions. From my own point of view, I’m very disappointed in the start that we’ve had, and quite frankly, I was very disappointed in the preseason that we had. I’m hoping for better. We always try to make the team as good as we possibly can. Sometimes, we’re not right. Hopefully, this time, it will work our on our behalf.”
“Ed—I haven’t talked to Craig yet, and I don’t mean this as a matter of disrespect to him, but are you worried at all about the perception of an insular kind of attitude by bringing in someone—given the fact that you guys haven’t won a Cup in 38 years, why bring in somebody who is steeped in that sort of culture?”
ES: “What’s the culture?”
“A culture that hasn’t won a championship.”
ES: “We haven’t won a championship, but we’ve been in the Stanley Cup Final a lot of times, and we’ve been in the playoffs a lot of times, and the culture is to win. 30 teams are trying to win the Cup, and we’re doing our damnedest to do it. That’s our culture. That’s our culture.”
“A fresh perspective…?”
ES: “No, we don’t need a fresh perspective. We have a pretty good culture, and we know who we’re dealing with.”
“Craig, specifically, what are some of the changes that need to be made right away with the approach that the players go through for each game?”
CB: “Well, first of all, team defense. I don’t think that we’re playing well enough without the puck. We need to play a lot better without the puck, and I think that we need to compete a lot harder.”
“Paul, did this roster have the components to allow Peter to coach the style of hockey that he wanted to play?”
PH: “Well, it’s a fair question. First of all, I believe in our players. I said earlier that I’m not going to let them off the hook. At the end of the day, they didn’t do their job, either. But I still believe in our players. We have good players. We just weren’t playing very well. We need to play better.”
Paul Holmgren off-podium availability
“You mentioned that you sensed in training camp that things weren’t right. Could you go into that?”
PH: “We just didn’t look like a team a lot of times, particularly in the preseason games. I know that you have different rosters every night, but even the games when we had basically our roster, I thought we struggled. Obviously, when you start out 0-3—outside of the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home last week, I didn’t think we played good enough. We didn’t look like a team.”
“Is that scheme, or motivation?”
PH: “I’m not sure. Probably a little of both. Just from talking to Craig, he’s going to make some solid adjustments initially, scheme-wise. Every coach has a different idea of how to play the game. Over time, I’m sure he’ll make some bigger changes. That’s difficult to do when you have a game tomorrow. It’s certainly a different guy than (Laviolette). I think they’re different.”
“Is it safe to say that his changes would be oriented towards defending?”
PH: “I think Craig believes that everybody needs to play good defense, and that off that, they’re going to develop good offense. Is that different than (Laviolette)? Probably, a little bit. Peter’s approach was always offensive-minded. It’s not to say that (Berube) is not an offensive-minded guy either, because he is.”
“Why I’m going there is because, when I looked at the changes you were excited about in the summer, and the makeup, it was about defense. You thought you had the guns, you thought you had enough—am I misreading that?”
PH: “First of all, we needed to get healthy from last year, which we did—I think our defense, I think we have good defense. We added Ray Emery and Vinny Lecavalier—Ray for goaltending, and Vinny to provide offense up front and size down the middle, and Mark Streit to provide offense, and help us offensively. Defense is a team concept. You have to have all five guys on the same page, and I think that’s what Craig is going to preach initially. We’re giving up far too many scoring chances, and not getting enough at the other end. Something needs to give.”
“Do you think three games was enough for (Laviolette)?”
PH: “When you make a decision, you make a change like this, when is the right time? I don’t know. Is three games enough? Probably not. But in looking at it—I’ll just keep going back, it was a gut feeling. I felt like I needed to make a change.”
“Could you talk about the assistants that you’re bringing on too?”
PH: “I forgot to mention that. John Paddock is coming on to work with Craig, and Ian Laperriere is coming on to work with him.”
“Could you talk about the reasoning behind those guys?”
PH: “Well, John is a good coach. He’s been at it a long time, he’s been very successful at the American league level, he’s been very successful at the NHL level as an assistant coach with Ottawa when they went to the Final in 2007, and Craig and him have a very good relationship. Ian is a little bit different. Since he retired as a player, he’s worked with us in the player development end, so he has a really good relationship with a lot of our young players. From an enthusiasm and energy standpoint, it’s hard to come close to a guy like Ian. I think he’ll give us a jolt of enthusiasm.”
“Have you had a chance to talk to any of the players yet?”
PH: “No. We have a meeting today at 1:30.”
“How was (Laviolette’s) reaction? Was he shocked?”
PH: “I don’t think he was shocked. It was very short. We shared some private thoughts. We’re working together with the U.S. Olympic team, we do different stuff together for that team, so I’m sure we’ll run into each other and we’ll get a chance to reflect back on things. I thanked him, and he thanked me, and we decided that we’ll talk about it another day.”
“What was Mr. Snider’s reaction when you said that you wanted to change the coach after three games?”
PH: “Whenever you’re talking about big moves like this—and this is a big move, particularly at this time of year—you better have your answers right as to why you’re doing it. At the end of the day, I think he understands. We’re here today, so…”
“What does Craig have that Peter didn’t have at this point?”
PH: “Well, they’re different. Their approach to the game is probably a little bit different. Peter’s approach to deal with players on an individual basis is different than Craig’s. It’s difficult to explain. (Berube) is, if you get to know him, a no frills, no BS guy. It is what it is. I think it’s ‘you better do this—maybe I’ll give you one chance, if you mess up again, you’re probably not going to get another chance.’ I think from an accountability standpoint, they might be a little bit different. Their ideas of the overall team concept when it comes to playing defense are probably different.”
“So is that what you felt this team needed then, was a kick in the pants?”
PH: “No, no, no…well, they do need a kick in the pants, because things have to change, that’s for sure. It’s a gut feeling. I didn’t like the way we’ve been playing, I didn’t like the direction we were headed, and I felt we needed to make a change.”
“You said you could tell from the first day of training camp that they didn’t look good.”
PH: “I was concerned.”
“Do you share that with him, or do you let Peter work through it?”
PH: “Through the course of training camp, I talk to the head coach every day, so yeah. We’re on the same page.”
“You know how this works in this league—after you fire a couple coaches, it’s up in your office now. Do you feel the bullseye is on you now?”
PH: “I don’t feel any different than I did last year or the year before. This is a results-oriented business. We’re trying to win.”
“The roster you put together—you feel that it’s suitable to contend?”
PH: “I like our team. I’d like them to play better. I believe they will.”
Craig Berube off-podium availability
On his coaching technique…
CB: “Doesn’t mean I am going to do the same things that other coaches did. I’m not them. I think that I have my own thoughts and I have my own way of how I want to coach. Bringing somebody from the outside doesn’t mean you are going to win just because you’re bringing somebody from the outside. This organization has been very successful, for a long time.”
“Craig, when you look at the shelf life of coaches in the NHL, it’s one of the sports where guys seem to not be able to get their messages through in a quicker period of time than in other sports. Do you think that was happening here?”
CB: “I worked for (Laviolette) for three plus years, and I enjoyed it very much. I learned a lot from him. He’s a great coach. Things weren’t right from preseason. We weren’t playing very well as a team. That’s the bottom line.”
“Is there any trepidation when taking a job when you know that this organization has a history of high turnovers among coaches?
CB: “No, not at all.”
“You’re not worried?”
CB: “No. Why would I be worried?”
“Exactly what I said, they frequently turn people over.”
CB: “So? That’s part of the business.”
“Paul said that he could tell the first day of training camp that things weren’t going well. Is that something the coaching staff sensed as well?”
CB: “Well yeah, we all sensed it. We didn’t play very well in preseason, whether you have a full lineup or not. We just didn’t see the competiveness, and the team-oriented play that’s needed on a nightly basis to win hockey games.”
“What are you going to do to change that?”
CB: “Well first of all, the team defense, I believe that we need to play better without the puck. When you play good hockey without the puck, the team comes together and you do the right things to get the puck back and you keep the puck out of your net. Right now we need to stress that and do a better job of it. We need to take pride in it.”
“Does it surprise you at all that this is happening just after three games?”
CB: “Well, it’s always a surprise when a coach gets let go. It’s tough. It’s tough for (Laviolette), it’s tough for McCarthy. They’re great guys and very good coaches. I learned a lot from both of them so it’s tough, it’s tough for sure.”
“I mean, even after three days, that’s pretty out of the normal.”
CB: “I think our play in preseason had a lot to do with it.”
“What kind of career do you feel like you’re going to have? Do you feel like this team can turn it around?”
CB: “I definitely feel like it. We’re going to put some different systems in place. I have 100 percent belief in every player we’ve got on this team, and we’ll be successful.”
On readiness to be the head coach…
CB: “I’ve been a Flyer my whole life, whether I have played on other teams or not. It’s a great honor. From Mr. Snider down they’ve always looked after me. It’s a great honor.”
“Is it tough though, you’re replacing a guy you coached for? A great guy lost his job today, and you have the opportunity now. Is it mixed emotions a little bit?”
CB: “It always is, definitely, it’s tough. You never like to see anyone lose their job, but that’s the business. We all know that. When we’re doing this job we know that it could happen at any time.”
“What will (Laperriere) and Paddock bring?”
CB: “John Paddock has been around forever, he was actually my first pro coach in Hershey. He’s a very smart guy, he knows the game really well, and has experience. Laperriere, we all know how ‘Lappy’ played the game with his heart; put everything on the line every night. He brings a lot of positive attitude, so I am looking forward to having them both there.”
“Craig, you talk about team defense, but the team got one goal in each of their first three games. On the other end of it, is it a matter of just everyone not being in sync, or is it a style of play?”
CB: “When you don’t play well without the puck, you don’t score goals.”
“Where do you stand personally as a coach on goaltenders? Would you like to have one goaltender play 60 games or are you comfortable with goaltenders sharing a position?”
CB: “I think that’ll work itself out.”
“You indicated that you don’t think the players are playing hard enough. Does that mean your players don’t play hard enough or are good enough?”
CB: “Sometimes players think that they are playing hard enough, and they’re not.”
“How can you get them to play harder?”
CB: “Demand it. Accountability. Every player is accountable to his teammates, that’s basically what it boils down to. You’ve got to be accountable to your teammates and play hard.”
“Wouldn’t Lavy demand it, and then they’re not doing it?”
CB: “Sometimes the message doesn’t get across.”
“So what could you do differently to get the message across?”
CB: “Well, there are lots of things you can do. I’m not going to sit here and explain them and tell you guys everything I’m going to do. I’m just not going to do that. We will get them to play hard.”
“So there will be a difference in the way you coach this team to get them to play well.”
CB: “Definitely, I’ve said before I don’t coach like anyone else. I coach the way I coach.”