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Newly-hired Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette listens to a question during a news conference, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, in Philadelphia. Laviolette replaces John Stevens, who was fired on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, after the team was shut out in consecutive games. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (Matt Slocum)
Newly-hired Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette listens to a question during a news conference, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, in Philadelphia. Laviolette replaces John Stevens, who was fired on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, after the team was shut out in consecutive games. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (Matt Slocum)

The Look ahead

Flyers look for fresh start Add to ...

The first day of the rest of Peter Laviolette's coaching life begins tonight in Montreal; this after an anything-that-could-go-wrong-did debut behind the Philadelphia Flyers' bench on Saturday. Not only did Laviolette's new team lose 8-2 to an Alex Oveckin-less Washington Capitals, they committed all the sins that got his predecessor John Stevens fired in the first place: Poor discipline, ineffective penalty killing, so-so goaltending and limited scoring.

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Funny how the industry has changed in how it deals with coaches-in-waiting. Once upon a time, the unemployed went back to the minors; or caught on somewhere as an assistant until it was their turn again. Now, they join James Duthie's TSN panel and bide their time in front of the cameras, dispensing wit, wisdom and keeping their profiles high. Laviolette followed the New York Rangers' John Tortorella down that TV-to-the-bench path; it will only be a matter of time before ex-Oilers' bench boss Craig MacTavish fills the next coaching vacancy.

Meanwhile, back on Broad Street, the Flyers imagine themselves as Stanley Cup contenders - which is why Laviolette interested them given he won a championship with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. GM Paul Holmgren saw how a midseason coaching change energized the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and hopes his team can catch the same lightning-in-a-bottle.

Carolina, 0-10-3 on the road this season and the only team without a victory away from its home arena, travels to Pittsburgh today for a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final. The hope is that the Hurricanes can get starting goalie Cam Ward back for the game after he missed most of the last month as a result of a skate cut to his leg ... Carolina players whose names will be in the rumour mill from now until the trading deadline: Ray Whitney, Matt Cullen, Scott Walker, Aaron Ward and Niclas Wallin. All are experienced NHLers, proven playoff warriors and most attractively, on expiring contracts ... The Penguins make their first trip of the season to Montreal on Wednesday, but it is not clear whether Sidney Crosby - who grew up idolizing the Habs - will be available. Crosby raced back into top five of NHL scorers this past fortnight, but missed Saturday's date with the Chicago Blackhawks as a result of a groin injury. Given that Crosby's groin seems to act up at some point every season, the Penguins are being cautious. Day-to-day, in Crosby's case, really does mean day-to-day ... Who could have seen this coming? When the Detroit Red Wings meet the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, the two perennial Western Conference contenders (and Stanley Cup champions in 2007 and 2008) will both be out of the playoff picture and struggling to rediscover their groove.

 

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