PHILADELPHIA -- On the first day of training camp, the Philadelphia Flyers were already a mess.
By the end of the pre-season, chairman Ed Snider had grave concerns about the team he founded.
"I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I've ever seen," Snider said. "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.
"Unfortunately, my worries were realized."
He only needed three games to make a move.
After a winless start, the Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette on Monday, three seasons after he led them to the Stanley Cup finals. Assistant Craig Berube, in his seventh season coaching within the organization, was promoted to replace Laviolette. He is the 18th coach in franchise history.
Despite a pre-season vote of confidence from ownership, Laviolette just couldn't overcome a punchless offence, a pair of journeymen in goal and a patchwork defence to jolt the Flyers out of their funk and keep his job. He dealt with rumours of his firing last season, a year in which the Flyers missed the playoffs after the lockout shortened the campaign. It was the only season in which he failed to make the post-season in Philadelphia.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren tried to mould a playoff roster in the off-season, signing forward Vinny Lecavalier, defenceman Mark Streit and goaltender Ray Emery. He also jettisoned overpriced and underperforming veterans, like goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forward Danny Briere.
Holmgren liked his transactions. He just didn't like how Laviolette was putting the pieces together.
"I think some of the additions that we made this summer were good additions," Holmgren said. "I think there was some excitement about our team going into training camp. Right from Day 1 of training camp, I was concerned.
"But it was more about how we played, and it was unacceptable. We don't look like a team at all."
Laviolette is signed through 2014-15. He's just the second coach in Flyers history to coach parts of five seasons.
He was hired early in the 2009 season after John Stevens was fired, and led the Flyers on an improbable run to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Chicago in six games.
Laviolette won the Stanley Cup coaching Carolina in 2006, and previously coached the New York Islanders. He's still set to serve as an assistant under Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma for the United States in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Snider backed his coach last month and brushed off suggestions Laviolette was on the hot seat.
"As far as Peter is concerned, last year was an anomaly," he said in September. "He's been a very good coach for us."
Just not anymore with the Flyers. Holmgren had a "fleeting thought" of firing Laviolette after last season, but thought the coach deserved one more chance with a full training camp.
"They do need a kick in the pants," Holmgren said.
Berube had 20 goals and 54 points over parts of seven seasons with the Flyers. He played for four other teams over a 17-year career and his 3,149 penalty minutes are seventh in NHL history.
Berube makes his debut tonight, when the Flyers play host to Florida.
-- The Associated Press