PETER LAVIOLETTE isn't holding his breath.
The Flyers' coach isn't waiting, wishing or hoping for a trade to wake up the echoes.
Laviolette made it clear yesterday that he has not asked for a trade, even though the Flyers have won just three times in their last 14 games and are 2-5 under his watch. He wants to play with the hand he was dealt 13 days ago.
"We have a good hockey team," Laviolette said. "We need to get this team dialed in right now. [A trade] comes from management. There have been no discussions from me. Those are things that happen with management."
For now, Laviolette wants to see how the Flyers respond tonight against Pittsburgh - just 48 hours after they were blown out, 6-1, by the defending Stanley Cup champions. Laviolette reminded reporters that he started out just 20-26-6 with Carolina the year before he took the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup.
But that doesn't mean an impatient Paul Holmgren won't pull the trigger. The NHL's holiday roster freeze takes effect at 12 midnight on Saturday and lasts until Dec. 27. No team is permitted to trade, recall, reassign or waive players during that time period to assure a comfortable holiday.
Without a move, the Flyers would be handcuffed for five games - which at this current pace could bounce them into the Eastern Conference cellar.
If Laviolette was interested in moving a specific player, he said he would have no problem voicing it to Holmgren.
"I really like the fact that Homer sits in my office every day," Laviolette said. "I think when you're talking, there is nothing left unsaid. There is nothing to bottle up inside you."
Laviolette said he already has witnessed disharmony in the Flyers' locker room.
"I think that everything could be better," Laviolette said. "All aspects of our game can be better . . . I think we can be a tighter unit. There's room for improvement, I think, in everything. [The locker room] being one of them."
So far, he has held off specific chemistry mixups like displacing players' seats in the locker room or calling for mandatory team events. An astute observer and listener, Laviolette is still forming opinions.
"I don't think you should be throwing things around when you're unsure of what you're dealing with," Laviolette said. "I don't think you can walk in and in 2 days establish the type of relationship or assessment that you want. It takes a while to really figure people out."
Laviolette, well aware of some of the players' penchants for a vibrant social life, said he has been investigating their extracurricular activities.
"I'm in here on a daily basis trying to get to know everybody and find out what goes on," Laviolette said. "You can't burn it at both ends and win a Stanley Cup. It's one or the other."
Scott Hartnell is one of the players whose name has been circulating through the Canadian rumor mill as being part of a trade. Hartnell has been chastised by Laviolette for undisciplined play. He added to his difficulties with three penalties on Monday and a turnover on Tuesday that led to a Pittsburgh goal.
Maybe Hartnell is feeling the pressure. Aside from Riley Cote and newly acquired goaltender Michael Leighton, Hartnell was the only healthy Flyer to skate in yesterday's optional practice with the injured players.
"Someone is going to have to pay the price," Hartnell said. "You don't want to see anyone get traded. I don't want to go, I love playing in Philly. But sooner or later, heads are going to roll."
Ace penalty killer Blair Betts will be a welcome addition to the Flyers' lineup tonight. Betts is expected to return after missing the last 12 games with a dislocated right shoulder.
The Flyers are 10-3 with Betts in the lineup and just 5-13-1 without him. Since Betts departed on Nov. 21, the penalty kill has sunk from fifth in the NHL all the way down to 22nd before last night's action.
"I don't think you can read too much into that," Betts said. "Timing has a lot to do with that number."
Andreas Nodl and Johan Backlund were sent back to Adirondack yesterday. Nodl was scoreless in 10 games and Backlund did not appear in relief of Brian Boucher . . . Goalie Michael Leighton will dress for the Flyers tonight. Leighton said yesterday, "You don't really expect after you leave a team to come back." He played four games for the Flyers in 2006-07 . . . Simon Gagne (groin) skated yesterday before his visit with doctors to determine his status . . . Darroll Powe (shoulder) could return as early as this weekend . . . The Flyers have been outscored by the Penguins, 11-5, in their two losses this season. *