The Philadelphia Flyers on Friday fired coach Craig Berube after two seasons.
"In a nutshell, I just didn't feel he got enough out of our group collectively," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said in making the announcement.
Berube got the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, but they finished 14 points out of a playoff spot this season.
Hextall said he made the decision Thursday and informed Berube on Friday.
Craig Berube was 75-58-28 in two seasons as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.
(Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)
"It's just a process that I went through," Hextall said. "I wanted to make the right decision. Once I put all the facts together, then you go with your gut and I came up with the decision last night."
Assistant coaches Gord Murphy, Ian Laperriere and Joe Mullen have been retained; Hextall said the next coach will determine their futures.
"It is always difficult to let somebody go that has worked so hard and has particularly been such a great member of our organization," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said. "I wish Craig the absolute best in the future and I really appreciate everything he has done for the Flyers. I know that Ron has agonized over making this decision. He studied over the situation very carefully and finally made the decision. Obviously he is the general manager and I support him in what he does and I am looking forward to whoever he hires and hoping we can have a much better season next year that we did this season."
Hextall said he'll soon start the process of building a list of potential coaches and said NHL experience isn't necessarily a prerequisite.
"I think in a perfect world that's one of the things you look for, but that's not mandatory," he said. "In the end we're going to look at every candidate that we feel merits looking at and go at it from there. Is [NHL experience] nice? Yes. Is it imperative? I'd say no."
Among the coaching candidates already available are former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, former New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer, and former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. There could be other candidates who become available in the future, but Hextall said firing Berube was not part of a plan to clear a spot for someone else.
"You really have to decide if the coach is the right coach for your team now," Hextall said. "If the answer to that is no, you have to move on. I'm not going to hedge my bet here and say, 'OK, I see a great coach that I can put in place so I'm going to make this move.' If you don't think it's the right coach then you have to move on. And that's what we did here. As we get into the summer and do our research here we'll come up with the guy that's the right guy."
Berube was 75-58-28 in two seasons. He had been promoted from assistant coach to replace Peter Laviolette on Oct. 7, 2013, three games into the 2013-14 season. Berube coached the Flyers to a third-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, but they lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round to the New York Rangers.
This season the Flyers started slow, winning one of their first six games (1-3-2) and finished sixth in the division. They went on a strong run in January and February and were 15 seconds from pulling within two points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference on March 7 but lost 3-2 to the Bruins in overtime. They finished the season 5-6-5.
There were a number of inconsistencies Berube never was able to fix, among them a penalty kill that ranked 27th in the League; a 10-20-11 road record; a 3-11 record in shootouts; and losses in their final 11 games (0-6-5) against teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs while going 9-3-3 in 15 games against teams that made playoffs.
"Do I think he did a good job last year? Yes," Hextall said. "And this year things didn't go as well. So you take the whole piece of pie. I don't think you evaluate a coach on 20 games or 40 games; you have to evaluate him on the whole ball of wax. We felt over two seasons that a change was needed."
Hextall said he would like to have a coach in place by the 2015 NHL Draft, which will be held June 26-27 in Sunrise, Fla., but said that's not a mandate.
He also said the next coach did not have to have any prior relationship with the organization. When Laviolette was hired in 2009, he was the first coach to have neither played for nor worked for the Flyers since Craig Ramsay in 2000. Berube was an assistant coach for six seasons before being promoted and spent seven of his 17 seasons as an NHL player in two stints.
"We're looking for the right guy," Hextall said. "Whether he has connections or not is not going to be part of the equation. I don't care about that. We're looking for the best coach possible to coach our team moving forward."