MINUTES INTO his introductory news conference as the Flyers' 18th head coach, Craig Berube thanked Ed Snider and Paul Holmgren for the opportunity. He said it was an honor.
Then, more important, the next words out of his mouth were about his new team's play without the puck.
"For me right now, I don't see our team doing a very good job without the puck," Berube said. "Everybody's going to look at, 'We only scored three goals in three games.' You want to score more goals? Do your job without the puck. Put yourself in a position to defend, and you'll get turnovers and get more opportunities the other way."
It was apparent through the Flyers' first three losses under Peter Laviolette that the team's play in the defensive zone was lacking. But that doesn't mean Berube would term himself as someone with a defense-first scheme.
Berube just doesn't believe in "always offensive," as Holmgren explained it. As one former Flyer, who played for Laviolette and wished to remain nameless, explained it, "You aren't going to win very often when you're giving up 15-plus scoring chances per night."
"It's not so much a defense-minded approach," Berube said. "We want to be an aggressive team on both sides of the puck. I want them to play as a team. They need to understand that they don't want to let their teammates down. Don't leave your goalie out to dry. Play the team game, all the time."
Berube's message resonated with his players, even after only one or two meetings. They had already understood that their sloppy play in the defensive zone - as a team, not only the defensemen - was unacceptable.
"Basically, we're playing as individuals right now. You don't win like that," Claude Giroux said before last night's game. "Like he said, [we need to] be playing without the puck, being in a good position and supporting your teammates. We need the whole team to be on the same page and working together."
As hard as it was to see Laviolette packing up his office, as Scott Hartnell said, not everyone was working off the same game plan. The Flyers have offensive talent, but without any support, there wasn't enough help defensively to get the puck to them.
"Defensively, we weren't playing good enough," Hartnell said. "Guys have been on different pages, at the far blue line when we're playing in our own zone. If you play defense, you're going to get good chances on the rush. This was a wake-up call, coming to the rink with new meetings, new systems, a new coach. I think we've got to support each other more."
Players shoulder blame
Less than 24 hours after watching their coach take the fall, the Flyers' players were ready and willing to accept their share of the blame for Laviolette's dismissal.
"You hear the rumors," Hartnell said. "It's hard to accept sometimes what is going on. A lot of the onus is on us as players. The preseason was bad. Our scorers haven't scored. We were getting outmuscled, outworked. Unfortunately, someone has to take the fall. But we've got to look at ourselves in the mirror."
Giroux said that Monday was "a tough day," that "it was a little sad to see him leave."
"We're the ones on the ice," Giroux said. "We're the ones doing the job. Obviously, we didn't get the job done."
What are the odds?
Chances are slim that Laviolette remains out of work for long. Two days after being fired in November 2011, Bruce Boudreau relocated from Washington to Anaheim. The Ducks fired their coach, Randy Carlyle, hours after a 4-1 win, just so they could nab Boudreau while he was still available.
Laviolette's availability may put a little extra pressure on those coaches teetering on the hot seat. Any team would need to ask the Flyers for permission to speak to Laviolette, as his contract with doesn't expire until June 2015. Surely, the Flyers would love to be able to stop paying him if he is hired elsewhere.
For the record, Las Vegas sportsbook Bovada updated its odds for the next NHL coach to be fired: Calgary's Bob Hartley (2/1), Carolina's Kirk Muller (5/2), Minnesota's Mike Yeo (7/2), Winnipeg's Claude Noel (4/1), Florida's Kevin Dineen (13/2) and New Jersey's Pete DeBoer (13/2).