There is little doubt Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren found Peter Laviolette an attractive candidate to replace John Stevens as coach in December because of a specific line on his resumé: Stanley Cup champion, 2006.
A coach whose name is engraved on the Cup carries a certain cache with even the most experienced among his players. It's called credibility. When the sparkle of his championship ring flashes before their eyes, they're all ears when he speaks.
So it was no surprise Monday when Laviolette pounced on the opportunity to refer to '06, when his Carolina Hurricanes rebounded from a lopsided loss to Edmonton in Game 6 to win Game 7.
Of course, the Flyers are in a predicament that's more dire than that of those Hurricanes. After Chicago beat them decisively, 7-4, Sunday at the United Center, the Flyers trail the Blackhawks, three games to two.
Also, Carolina played Game 7 at home. If the Flyers extend this series to the limit, Game 7 will be played Friday in Chicago. The home team in this series has yet to lose.
But Laviolette is all about sending out positive vibes, so why get hung up on some inconvenient truths?
"I lived it in 2006," Laviolette said as he gave the Flyers the day off to recharge their batteries. "We [Carolina] went up to Edmonton in Game 6 and really got outplayed. It was a similar game to [Sunday's]. I think what it does is it makes you remember it was just one game. They're just one-game parts of a series.
"You have to make sure you are ready for the next game, that you put this one behind you because they're all separate. Just from my experience in 2006, we had a lousy game in Game 6. We had probably the best game of the year in Game 7."
Throughout the playoffs, Laviolette has made it a point to praise the Flyers for their what-me-worry approach in the face of pressure, and he has done a superb job of narrowing their focus. Case in point: When the Flyers fell behind Boston by three games to none, he didn't allow the enormity of their task to overwhelm them. Instead, he convinced them they were capable of winning just one game. Then one more. One more and one more.
Throughout the playoffs, he has shielded individual players from criticism. He did so again Monday when the issue of Chris Pronger's awful Game 5 performance was raised. Pronger, the best player on the ice through the first four games, was minus-5.
"Everybody could have been a little bit better," Laviolette said. "I'm sure Chris will have a big game and lead the way. But we need to make sure we have all hands on deck."
During the Finals, Laviolette has attempted to tighten the noose on the Blackhawks. He talked about how suffocating the pressure can be on the team that's favored. Without mentioning goalie Antti Niemi by name, he spoke of how difficult it has to be for a rookie goalie to carry the weight for a club that hasn't won a Cup since 1961. Laviolette conveniently ignored the fact his goalie, Michael Leighton, had less NHL playoff experience than Niemi.
Laviolette has also instilled in the Flyers the ability to avoid stewing over a poor performance, and that the outcome of each game depends more on what the Flyers do than what the Blackhawks do.
"If you look at the Final, it's like a novel," he said. "And there could be seven chapters in it, and each chapter is its own story. In Chapter 5, they were probably happy with what they did, and we were not. It moves on to another day and another chapter. Our team will be ready to give it."