Oak River native and former Brandon Wheat Kings forward John Paddock moved back behind the bench as part of the Philadelphia Flyers’ surprising shakeup Monday.
The 53-year-old Paddock, who played for Brandon in the WHL from 1972-74 before turning pro, was named an assistant coach yesterday after the Flyers fired head coach Peter Laviolette and replaced him with assistant coach Craig Berube.
Paddock assumed the role as director of player personnel in the off-season after splitting his time last season between assistant general manager and assistant coach. Ian Laperriere joined Paddock as an assistant to Berube, who is in his seventh season as a coach in the Flyers’ organization and now becomes the 18th coach in franchise history.
Paddock, a former head coach of the Winnipeg Jets and the Ottawa Senators, has been a part of the Flyers’ organization for the past five seasons, holding multiple positions in the front office and coaching ranks. He now returns to the bench as the Flyers look to turn around a season that has started with three straight losses.
Flyers owner Ed Snider said Monday he saw signs of problems right from training camp this season.
"I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen," Snider said. "I’m not talking about wins or losses. There was nothing exciting. Nobody shined. Nobody looked good. I couldn’t point to one thing that I thought was a positive. Unfortunately, my worries were realized."
Despite a preseason vote of confidence from ownership, Laviolette just couldn’t overcome a punchless offence, a pair of journeymen in goal and a patchwork defence to jolt the Flyers out of their funk and keep his job. He dealt with rumours of his firing last season, a year in which the Flyers missed the playoffs after the lockout shortened the campaign. It was the only season in which he failed to make the post-season in Philadelphia.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren tried to mould a playoff roster in the off-season, signing forward Vinny Lecavalier, defenceman Mark Streit and goaltender Ray Emery. He also jettisoned overpriced and underperforming veterans, like goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forward Danny Briere.
Holmgren liked his transactions. He just didn’t like how Laviolette was putting the pieces together.
"I think some of the additions that we made this summer were good additions," Holmgren said. "I think there was some excitement about our team going into training camp. Right from Day 1 of training camp, I was concerned. But it was more about how we played, and it was unacceptable. We don’t look like a team at all."
Laviolette is just the second coach in Flyers history to coach parts of five seasons. He was hired early in the 2009 season after John Stevens was fired, and led the Flyers on an improbable run to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Chicago in six games.
Berube will make his debut tonight when the Flyers play host to the Florida Panthers.
"Just because I’ve been in the organization a long time doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same thing other coaches did," Berube said. "I’m not them. I have my own thoughts. I have my own way of how I want to coach."
Laviolette led the Flyers to three straight playoff appearances before last season. The Flyers went 23-22-3 and were 10th in the Eastern Conference with 49 points last year.
» The Associated Press-Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 8, 2013