Introduced as the 17th coach in Flyers history last night, Peter Laviolette said he is here for one reason: to bring the city a hockey championship.
"I understand in Philadelphia there's an expectation for success," he said during a news conference at the Wachovia Center. "And I'm going to do my best to fulfill that expectation and bring a Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia."
Laviolette, a fiery sort, replaces the laid-back John Stevens, who was fired after three-plus seasons.
The Flyers (13-11-1) have lost six of their last seven games and have not scored in their last eight periods.
"I have not been happy with the direction the team has been going lately, and late [Thursday] night I made up my mind to make a coaching change," general manager Paul Holmgren said.
In addition, Jack McIlhargey was dismissed as an assistant.
Kevin McCarthy, a former Flyer who had been an assistant in Carolina this season, will become one of Laviolette's assistants.
Laviolette, 45, spent four-plus seasons as Carolina's head coach, compiling a 167-122-34 record. He led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006 before being fired last season.
"I believe we need a new voice at this time," Holmgren said, adding that Laviolette brings "more of an offensive push."
Before joining Carolina, Laviolette was the New York Islanders' coach for two seasons, compiling a 77-65-25 record and leading the Isles to two playoff berths.
"I'm very excited to be here," Laviolette said. "When you think about the organizations and the jobs you might want, Philadelphia for me is at the top of the list."
Laviolette, who had been doing some hockey commentary, said he wanted to "pay some respect and thank John Stevens for everything he did here. We traveled a very similar road through the minor leagues and through coaching in the American Hockey League. I know him as a person and coach."
Laviolette said he had a plan to be successful, and when it comes to fruition "everybody should remember that John Stevens had a hand in the path that it took."
A Florida resident, Laviolette smiled as he said he had to resign as an assistant coach of his son's peewee hockey team to accept the Flyers' job. He said his son wasn't happy he had to leave to return to the NHL.
"But it's good, because we weren't really getting along," he said. "He was ready to fire me, and I was ready to trade him."
Laviolette, a native of Franklin, Mass., said he instructed his son to do something a certain way but was told that the head coach wanted it done differently.
"I said, 'I know what I'm talking about, because I've coached some games before.' And he said, 'Yeah, Dad, but you got fired' " by Carolina last season.
". . . So I don't have to coach him anymore. I can just be a dad."
Holmgren said Laviolette would bring a more aggressive offensive style to the Flyers, who have suffered consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2003.
The GM revealed he offered Laviolette the Phantoms' job in the AHL last summer but was turned down.
Laviolette said he wanted to keep his options open in case an NHL job became available.
"I think his style of play suits our team well," Holmgren said.
Asked what he thought was wrong with the Flyers, Laviolette took the high road.
"I don't think it's fair to throw darts when you're not on the inside," he said. "I know the guys and the coaches and the staff. . . . I can tell you I'm looking forward to seeing a very aggressive brand of hockey, aggressive in the offensive zone and get our D-men activated. A lot of teams having success now are playing that way."
Simon Gagne, the Flyers' injured winger, said he received good reports on Laviolette from former Flyer Justin Williams, who played on Carolina's Stanley Cup team.
"Justin liked him a lot," Gagne said. "He said he's the kind of guy who, if you work hard, he'll be fair with you."
The Flyers will hold their first practice under Laviolette at 10:15 this morning at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. Laviolette, who was the head coach of Team USA in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy, said he was eager to evaluate the players.
"There are a lot of players here that most teams in the league would want to have," he said.
Breakaways. Holmgren said that there were no plans to change the leadership roles, and that Mike Richards would remain the captain. . . . Ray Emery, who has a 4.71 goals-against average in his last four starts, is expected to return to the nets tonight against visiting Washington. . . . Kimmo Timonen, slowed by a broken toe and bad back, did not practice yesterday but should play tonight. About 900 tickets remain. . . . The Phantoms, in their return to Philadelphia for one night, dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Norfolk last night in front of 13,127 at the Wachovia Center.