Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trending that caught Doug's eye... You're fired

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They dish out lots of punishment in the National Hockey League, but we suspect nothing stings quite as much as getting fired just three games into the regular season.

Consider the plight of poor Peter Laviolette, who was dumped as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday after his squad dropped its first three regular-season games for the second straight season.

Adding insult to injury was the fact Laviolette's firing came just 24 days after Flyers owner Ed Snider gave him a vote of confidence, insisting the beleaguered coach was not on the hot seat.

"As far as Peter is concerned, last year was an anomaly," Snider gushed in the pre-season. "He's been a very good coach for us, he's been a good coach in this league. We're thrilled to have him."

It appears the ouster of Laviolette -- rated by online oddsmakers as the NHL coach most likely to be canned this season -- sets a record for the fastest firing of a coach in a new season. Three coaches had been let go just four games into a new campaign. The important thing for Laviolette to remember now is a lot of people far more famous than him have lost their jobs, then clawed their way back to fame and riches, including five of our all-time favourite firees:

5 Madonna

Before she became the "Material Girl" and the "Queen of Pop," things weren't exactly soaring up the charts for the young woman known as Madonna Louise Ciccone. After dropping out of university and moving to New York to find fame and fortune, the top female performer of all time landed a gig at the Dunkin' Donuts outlet in Times Square. According to dozens of business and celebrity websites, Madonna didn't even last a day behind the counter. The famously temperamental Madge admits she deliberately squirted jelly filling from a doughnut all over a customer she was not overly fond of. That performance drew less than rave reviews from her bosses, who fired her. In hindsight, they couldn't have been crueller.

4 J.K. Rowling

Someone once famously said: "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." They probably weren't thinking about the most famous author in the world at the time, but those wise words certainly fit the bill. It's highly likely the world would never have been treated to the adventures of the boy wizard Harry Potter if Rowling hadn't first been canned from her job as a secretary. According to and a host of other websites, the woman who created Hogwarts and He Who Must Not Be Named once slaved away as a secretary in the London offices of Amnesty International. Dreaming of being a writer, she used her work computer to write stories instead of office memos and spent her days "daydreaming" about a world of magic and muggles. Not fans of fantasy, her employers gave her the heave-ho. The fact her severance cheque allowed her to focus on writing no doubt eased the sting of being shown the door. Fortunately for her ex-bosses, Rowling didn't know the Cruciatus curse at the time.

3 Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank

Chances are you haven't heard these two names before. Well, not many people had back in the late 1970s when the pair were officers with a Southern California home-centre chain called Handy Dan. When a corporate raider famed for gutting senior management took over, they thought their jobs were safe. That was the last mistake they ever made as they quickly went on to author one of the world's great business comeback stories. Fired in 1978, the two men decided to start their own unique home-improvement chain, filling stores with discounted merchandise. What happened to Handy Dan? It closed in 1989. And Blank and Marcus's fledgling enterprise? When we last checked, Home Depot was an international phenomenon, with 761 stores and $30 billion in sales in the first 20 years of operation. Sounds pretty handy to us.

2 Steve Jobs

It's one thing to get fired; it's another to get fired from the company you helped co-found. In 1985, the computer genius lost a power struggle with Apple's board of directors -- most notably CEO John Sculley, whom Jobs had lured away from Pepsi-Cola in 1983 -- and was stripped of his managerial duties. In a 2005 speech at Stanford University, Jobs -- who returned to Apple and brought it back to life before his own tragic death -- confessed his firing was a blessing in disguise, saying: "It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life... I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it."

1 Oprah Winfrey

Peter Laviolette can take comfort in knowing even the most famous woman in the world once didn't measure up to her boss's expectations. At the age of 26, Oprah was hired to co-anchor the evening news at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. The producer reportedly got fed up with her tendency to become emotionally involved in stories -- and the fact she seemed dull and stiff -- so he yanked her off the air. "At the time, I was devastated, devastated," Oprah later recalled of that tragic moment. Instead of showing the budding superstar the door, the station offered her a role on a failing daytime TV show, considered a big step down from the evening news. Oprah blossomed and turned People Are Talking into a major hit. In 1984, she moved to Chicago and if you don't know the rest of the story, here's a few words from our pal Donald Trump: YOU'RE FIRED!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 D2

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