Last week, philadelphiaflyers.com solicited your questions for Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. We had over 1000 submissions, and picked the following questions below for Peter to answer.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
* * * Q - What has been your favorite thing about coaching in Philadelphia so far this season?
Peter Laviolette: “One of the reasons I was really excited to come here was because of the organization, and the history and the tradition that the Flyers have, and the opportunity to coach one of the most prestigious franchises in the National Hockey League.”
Q - We all know some of the players superstitions, but do you have any of your own?
East Windsor, NJ
PL: “I get stuck on my gum sometimes. If I feel like a certain brand is going the right way, I’ll stick to it. Right now it’s that '5' gum.
"If I find that I did something and it worked, it’s not like I’ll do it every game, but I may do it again and again. But, I don’t have anything that’s hung around year after year.”
Q - Do you think that the "Broad Street Bullies" style of play is outdated with all of the changes the league has made to accommodate skilled players?
PL: “I like the fact that our team has some grit and some toughness to it, and I think there’s still room for that type of game in the NHL. We have that type of player here in Philadelphia; when I coached in Carolina, we didn’t have that type of player. I think you can use that. It has to be done inside the realm of discipline, but yes, I still think it can be an effective way to play the game.”
Q - Hi Peter, what do you think is the Flyers’ biggest strength this year?
PL: “Right now, I like the depth of our team. We have four lines that can play against anybody’s lines. We have defensemen now that, when they are all healthy, you’re not worried about one pair or one person.
"All of our goaltending recently has been very good. Ray, when he’s in there, has been excellent, and Leighton has been excellent. Boucher has been really sharp in practice and waiting to go, so right now I like the depth that we have.”
Q - Going into the final stretch of the season, most of the games are against teams that are equal or below the Flyers in standings. How tough is it going to be to keep the team focused, night in and night out, with not a lot of rest?
Eckville, Alberta Canada
PL: “It can’t be about who we’re playing. It’s got to be about the Philadelphia Flyers and how we prepare ourselves for the playoffs. We’ve got an opportunity where we went into the break playing well, and we’re in the stretch drive now. We should be thinking about how we can get better and how we can improve and how we prepare ourselves for the postseason. That way, when it hits, you feel like you’ve gone down the road that can lead you to success.”
Q - What do you think Claude Giroux can accomplish in his NHL career?
New Brunswick, Canada
PL: “A lot. He’s a young player that’s learning the game and learning the league, and he’s just at the beginning of that journey, but he’s got a tremendous amount of skill. When he plays the game and when he practices, you can see that he really likes the game. So now, you’ve got a skilled guy that is passionate about what he does, and there’s a lot of potential with that.”
Q - What team do you think will be the most difficult to face in the playoffs?
Upper Darby, PA
PL: “There are the obvious answers that come with that…the Penguins and the Capitals, the teams that have played well and played consistent all year long. Sometimes when you say that, you’re being disrespectful to a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who have had an excellent year, or the Boston Bruins, who are capable of winning. Does anybody want to play the Philadelphia Flyers?
"There are lots of teams, no matter who you play, you’re going to have your work cut out and you’re going to have to be on top of your game in order to be successful in the first round.”
Q - In the time you've been here in Philadelphia, a lot of players have stepped up and made huge contributions to the team. What player has surprised you most?
PL: “There are the obvious big names that are out there. Pronger has been excellent; Richards, Carter, and Michael Leighton, obviously, because he stepped into a situation.
"The one guy that I think you really grow to appreciate as a coach is Kimmo Timonen
. You may not notice it from the outside, but when you have him on the bench and on the back end, the amount of minutes that he plays, Kimmo has been very solid. He and Pronger have been outstanding.”
Q - What was the biggest hurdle you encountered when trying to implement your system as the new head coach?
PL: “I think when you are trying to create a new identity for your team, it’s hard to move out of an old identity. Neither one is right or wrong, it’s just a style you want to play. If you’re done things a certain way, in life or in hockey, it’s very difficult to change your ways and do something different.
“The biggest thing was, mentally and physically, changing that style. That was probably the biggest challenge.”
Q - When you won the cup with Carolina, what did you do with it for your 24 hours?
PL: “I actually got it for two days, not one day. The first day we kept it in Raleigh. It was right on the 4th of July, and the Stanley Cup was there at our party. We probably had 300 or 400 people over at our house for a big, all-day bash. It was a real good time. My kids really enjoyed that experience, and we made a big ice cream sundae in there with gallons of vanilla ice cream and a bottle or hot fudge and M-and-M’s. All of the neighborhood kids all had big spoons and everybody just chowed out of it.
“We got it on a plane early the next morning and put it in our hometown parade in Franklin, Massachusetts. So, it was really good.”