With the Skate Zone pretty quiet as many Flyers used it as an off day, Laviolette was front and center as the go-to speaker for the scribes.
What followed was one of his longest interviews of the season – nearly 11 minutes in length, and it was chock full of witty responses and comical moments.
While I won’t put the entire interview here, I will put some of its funnier snippets, because it’s nice to see the funny side of Lavy every once in a while.
He did get a point across to – about the positivity in the locker room – but he had some fun while doing it.
So, here goes:
It all started when Scott Hartnell put Comcast Sportsnet’s Lisa Hillary up to no good by telling her to ask Lavy about his line changes – something Lavy never talks about in advance.
Hillary: Scott told me to ask you about line changes.
Lavy: I don’t know what he’s talking about… I’m just glad he’s left the room. So if you guys want to talk about him now we can. So, if you guys have any Hartnell questions…
Sam Carchidi (Philadelphia Inquirer): I do actually, do you think he looks more physical –
Lavy: (Interrupting): He looks terrible.
Carchidi: Do you think we’re starting to see the old Scott Hartnell?
Lavy: You know, when he came back and he played in the first few games before he hurt his foot, I thought he was one of our most noticeable, physical guys. Even when he cam back [from the injury] he was banging bodies. In that first game back, that first period we weren’t as physical as I would have liked to have been – but he was. I think when you see guys banging bodies and you see where it leads to as a success point on the ice… it’s a little bit contagious….
Randy Miller (Courier Post of New Jersey): What would you say is the biggest reason you guys have been inconsistent so far?
Lavy: You sure you don’t want to talk about positive things today? You want to go down a negative road, or do you want to go positive?
Miller: Well, it leads to a positive –
Lavy: (interrupting): O.K., then if you ask me a positive question, I’ll give you a positive answer.
Wayne Fish (Bucks County Courier Times): How do you get more consistent?
Lavy: That’s a negative question.
Lavy: Ask a positive question.
Tim Panaccio (CSNPhilly.com): How do you maintain everything from last night – all the good stuff.
Lavy: There’s been lots of good things. If you go back, the Islanders game, the Pittsburgh game, last game. There’s always different opinions leaving a game. You know the Toronto game, there were a couple specialty team goals scored. It’s a 2-1 game if you take out their power play goals – it was a close game, a 2-1 game, a tight-checking game and we came out on the wrong side of it. Then there’s games that you don’t like. But we’re back home, we’re rested and we should focus on the positive things we did last night and in games past and move forward from there.
Miller: Almost halfway through the season are you as optimistic about this team as you were going into the season considering that Bryz has played so well, you have new guys who are in here that may be able to help and you’re getting healthy?
Lavy: I think all of that is a positive sign. Ultimately we have to go out and play the games and win them. We get to play some home games now. The schedule is not as crazy as it has been in the past… and we have to take advantage of that. Over the course of most years there are some months where you don’t play to your liking, there’s some months where you are O.K., but you wish you were better and there’s some months where you have a real good month. We want to have a real good month here. Last night was a real good start to the month of March (even though it was still February) we have to move forward and make up some ground. We did some damage [to ourselves] early on in the first eight games of the season.
Miller: Do you believe in positive thinking? Do you want to let this team know what they are doing well as opposed to -
Lavy: (Interrupting… again) It’s hard when I surround myself with you guys, but I am a believer in positive thinking.
Rob Parent (Delaware County Times): That seems to be a campaign you are on the last couple of days – the power of positive thinking, don’t you think?
Lavy: There’s a lot of good pieces in here and there’s a lot of good things going on. We have to continue to fight to win hockey games and fight to put ourselves back into a position where we qualify for the playoffs and have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, so, I’d rather focus on that, what we can do and what we are doing and try to build off of that.
Fish: Do you see any parallels to your first year here when it was sort of an uphill battle? Do you reference back to that and say, ‘Some of you guys in this room were here and you made it that year and it worked.’ You’re in the same boat aren’t you?
Lavy: There’s definitely some similarities. You are not in the position you want. You have to fight for something. There’s something to be said for that as long as you make it. There’s something to be said for struggles. It builds strength. We’ve had struggles and continued to build and continued to grow and continue to move up the standings.
Miller: Looking at it from the positive side too, as much inconsistency –
Lavy: (The fervent interrupter) All this positive talk around here today. (He turns to Parent) Are you feeling this? (He starts to rub elbows with Parent) It’s rubbing. It’s rubbing off. Wow! It’s sunny in here. It’s bright!
Miller: When you look at the standings, you’re in eighth. I know you’ve played some more games, but it’s not like you are buried. You are right there.
Lavy: The games played are a bit of concern because it’s three, four or five on some teams, so it takes out the wiggle room of the bad games. You have to play a lot of consistent hockey and continue to climb because those numbers don’t work in your favor…
Panaccio: Do you believe in history?
(Lavy stares at Panaccio blankly)
Panaccio: I say that because historically this team in the third month of its season has a pretty good run. Normally it’s December, but this season it’s March, that’s when it’s always made a pretty big push.
Lavy: I would probably have to put that more to coincidence than history. Do you know what I mean? I don’t –
Panaccio: (doing his best Lavy impersonation by interrupting) So, you’re not reaching for the positive there?
Lavy: I don’t put any stock in that. What a team did four years ago and what this team does in the third month – I don’t put a lot of value in that. It’s not that I’m being negative, I’m just not sure how that… how a team played four years ago in the third month… (makes a facial expression that he is incredulous that he actually has to try to answer this question).
(Panaccio, though, isn’t through with it)
Panaccio: People always say the Flyers win the Cup in December not in June.
Miller: They were great in March, 1967.
Panaccio: (A great non sequitur) Does Saturday’s game mark a new segment, or did the segment begin last night?
Lavy: You’re stabbing here, huh? You’re throwing that dart out there and seeing if it hits a balloon somewhere?
Panaccio: Well, I know you are big on segments.
Panaccio: Do you start that segment with a… you made an emphasis last night about, “We finished February” with this record (8-6-1). To me the new segment begins Saturday.
Lavy: If there were a segment starting then you would be right. There is not, but if there were, you would be right.
There was a lot more to this conversation, but it was just general hockey conversation. Nevertheless, it was nice to see Lavy let loose and have some fun with the same guys who frequently make him feel like he has indigestion.
The Flyers placed two players on waivers Thursday – forward Tom Sestito and goalie Michael Leighton.
Leighton has been sidelined for three weeks with a badly bruised ring finger but appears to have been beaten out for his backup spot by his replacement Brian Boucher.
As for Sestito, he certainly has more value to a lineup because of his size, but he has had a hard time staying healthy since arriving in Philadelphia.
His most recent injury, a severe charley horse, was suffered during a conditioning assignment with the Phantoms last week. While he’s been skating since, he has said he doesn’t feel great on the ice just yet, which has made him unavailable to Laviolette for several games.
If they go unclaimed by the other 29 teams in the NHL by Noon tomorrow, the Flyers have the option to keep the players on their roster or send them to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL.
Speaking of injured players, Erik Gustafsson remains day-to-day with a lower body injury, meaning Saturday afternoon could se the return of Kurtis Foster to the lineup.
Foster has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games, but could see time if Gustafsson’s injury is good to go.
“Everybody is valued here and you can only dress so many people in the lineup,” Laviolette said. “Since Gus has come in he’s really provided good movement from the back end. He’s getting the puck and skating it very well in all situations. Even on the power play where he’s come in and done a nice job. I think we’ll assess all that tomorrow and see where he’s at.”
Harry Zolnierczyk will not face supplemental discipline for his hit on Mathieu Perrault at the end of Wednesday’s game.
Zolnierczyk was given a five minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct when he hit Perrault at center ice, but while the collision appeared violent to the naked eye, replays show it wasn’t nearly as physical as most thought, and also that Zolnierczyk caught Perrault hip-on-hip and didn’t lead with his knee at all.
To his credit, Zolnierczyk did not blame the officials for the penalties handed out to him, saying he understood that the collision looked worse than it really was.
The Flyers held an optional practice Thursday and for the most part, the players who played in Wednesday’s game opted not to take part.
Choosing rest and recovery over skating, most of the team didn’t get on the ice Thursday. The only players who played Wednesday and skated at practice Thursday were Scott Hartnell, Zac Rinaldo and Zolnierczyk.
They were joined by healthy scratches Mike Knuble and Kurtis Foster, the injured Matt Read, Sestito, Leighton and Boucher.
The team will have a full practice tomorrow at 11 a.m.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37