The season is spinning out of control fast for the Philadelphia Flyers. Is it spinning too fast for coach Peter Laviolette to stay on? According to GM Paul Holmgren, no. He gave Laviolette a vote of confidence on Thursday.
When things go south in a season with expectations high, who gets the blame? Why, the coach, of couse. So with the Flyers sinking further and further behind each day, the speculation is burning as to whether Laviolette will make it beyond this season.
That talk went to a new level after the Flyers lost 5-2 at New Jersey on Wednesday night in a critical, nationally televised game. Needed to win oh so badly, the Flyers were listless, completely overrun by the Devils.
After the game, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer wondered aloud if the end is now near for Lavy. He also cited a source who had no comment on Laviolette's job security.
The only thing worse than that is the old vote of confidence. No worries -- that came on Thursday from GM Paul Holmgren.
Holmgren gave Peter Laviolette 2 votes of confidence and lays it squarely on his players having to play better— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) March 14, 2013
Specifically, here's what Holmgren said via Randy Miller.
"I don't like the way we're playing right now, but I don't necessarily blame that on the coach," Holmgren said. "I haven't even thought about [a coaching change]."
For what it's worth, the players weren't putting it on the coach after Wednesday night's loss, either. Scott Hartnell was particularly clear on that point.
"Lavy's emotional. He's intense. He thinks the game really well," Hartnell said. "His bench awareness is great; it's definitely not his fault."
Veterans Danny Briere and Kimmo Timmonen echoed that point to Panaccio, of CSN Philly. They all know Laviolette isn't the one playing; they are. And right now, they aren't getting it done. It's as simple as that.
That doesn't mean Laviolette is off the hook, though. Perhaps Holmgren is being straight up when he says he won't blame his coach for this. But, typically, that's not how this plays out, both when a coach gets that confidence vote and when a team with playoff aspirations is struggling like the Flyers are.
That's not to say Laviolette isn't on the hook for some of this. When you have a team that has high expectations and they are in 11th place in the conference, there is blame to go all around. Just like you can't blame Laviolette for all of the Flyers' struggles, you can't ignore him, either.
You can pretty much guarantee this much: If Laviolette is canned by the Flyers, he will be one of those guys who will be in demand. He has been a good coach wherever he has gone; he has a Stanley Cup on his resume from his time in Carolina. The guy is a good coach and in the NHL. That means you can have a job pretty much as long as you want.
Just to be safe, though, Laviolette would probably like to see his team winning. They all would.
Too many of those will cost somebody their job, and that usually means the coach.