Grilled for 40 minutes by reporters on subjects ranging from his use of goalies to Mike Richards' captaincy, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette smiled wryly when the session ended Monday at the team's Voorhees practice facility.

"Well, that was enjoyable," he said, sarcasm dripping.

During the interview, Laviolette acknowledged that he and Richards "continue to work on our relationship. I respect him. I like Mike as a person, and we continue to work on that."

He defended the center's job as captain of a team that grossly underachieved in the playoffs.

The Flyers, who blew their chance at the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference by winning just seven of their last 21 regular-season games, were swept by Boston in the conference semifinals.

"When you come up empty of your goals, you're left with nothing but disappointment," Laviolette said. "That's where we're all at right now."

Laviolette said Richards, who was bothered by a wrist injury and had a subpar season, was "respected" by his teammates and did a good job as a leader.

"Mike and I continue to work on our relationship, but the same goes for everybody else in here," the coach said.

Laviolette said the Flyers lost their identity late in the season with their inconsistent play and lack of energy. He disagreed with a questioner who wondered if the Flyers were pushed too hard early in the season.

"I don't know if there's a way to not push at the beginning of the year, or not try to be successful so you can have gas at the end of the year," he said, adding that the team will approach next season the same way.

Laviolette said that Sergei Bobrovsky should "walk away with a positive" feeling because of his strong rookie year and "will get an opportunity to prove" he can be the No. 1 goalie next season.

He sidestepped questions about whether he thought the Flyers needed to add a goalie in the offseason, saying Bobrovsky had a great attitude and a "bright future" and that Michael Leighton was under contract for next year. "All those things will get sorted out this summer."

Richards was not available Monday. General manager Paul Holmgren will meet with the media Tuesday to review his offseason plans - and announce whether Richards will need wrist surgery.

Laviolette said Richards' injury did not alter how he played him or used him in faceoffs late in the season. Richards had one goal in the postseason.

Winger Kris Versteeg said Monday he would have minor abdominal surgery in the offseason.

Free-agent watch. Potential unrestricted free agents Ville Leino, Brian Boucher, and Sean O'Donnell said they hoped to re-sign with the Flyers.

Leino probably has the best chance to return, though the Flyers could pass if they decide they need to use the money on a pricey free-agent goalie such as Ilya Bryzgalov of Phoenix.

O'Donnell, 39, said he still believes he has "something left in the tank."

As for Boucher, 34, he thinks he can play for at least a couple of more years.

"I love Philadelphia," Boucher said. "I've been here now three times. My kids are in school and they have friends here. As you get older, it's always tougher to leave places. But I fully understand how things go, and there are decisions that need to be made that are beyond Brian Boucher, so you can't take things personally. We'll see what happens, and we'll adjust accordingly."

Nik Zherdev and Nick Boynton also can become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Neither is expected to be re-signed.

Breakaways. Scott Hartnell said the Flyers "looked tired in the Boston series. We were always a step behind, getting beat out of the corner with the puck." . . . Claude Giroux on the Bruins' stunning sweep: "We're a better hockey team than that. . . . It was a good regular season, but it doesn't matter if you're first or eighth place. It's the playoffs that count. It's going to be important to have a good summer, and hopefully guys are ready for training camp." . . . O'Donnell said the Buffalo series "may have taken more out of us than a normal seven-game series," calling it "physically and emotionally exhausting. There were lots of ups and downs, and looking back, I think that seven-game series was more like a nine- or a 10-game series."