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Winless Flyers fire coach Laviolette after three games

Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette instructs his team against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of their NHL hockey gam
Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette instructs his team against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of their NHL hockey gam

(Reuters) - Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette paid for the team's winless start to the National Hockey League (NHL) season as he was fired after three games on Monday.

Craig Berube, a former Flyers player who was in his seventh season as the team's assistant coach, was named as Laviolette's replacement and will make his head coaching debut on Tuesday when Philadelphia host the Florida Panthers.

"Right from the first day of training camp I was worried about how the team looked," Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said at a news conference. "We have a long way to go this season but it's about how we played and it was unacceptable.

"It was a gut feeling that I had to make a change."

The decision to fire Laviolette, who took over as Flyers coach in December 2009, came a day after the team's 2-1 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and marks one of the quickest coaching changes to start and NHL season.

In their first three games of the 2013-14 season, the Flyers were outscored a combined 9-3.

Laviolette, who was in his fifth season behind the Flyers bench, went 145-98-29 with the organization during the regular season and led the team to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year in charge.

But the team lost in the second round of the playoffs in each of the next two campaigns and took a step back during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Laviolette began his coaching career with the New York Islanders in 2001 before spending five seasons with Carolina, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2006.

Prior to the start of the current season Flyers owner Ed Snider had given Laviolette, who will act as an assistant on the U.S. Sochi Olympic team, a vote of confidence believing that last season was an anomaly but after the winless start had a change of heart.

"From my point of view I'm disappointed in the start we had and I was disappointed in the preseason we had," said Snider. "I'm hoping for better. We always try to make the team as good as we possibly can.

"Sometimes we're not right. Hopefully this time it'll work on our behalf."

Berube becomes the 18th full-time head coach in the history of the franchise. He spent seven seasons as an assistant with the Flyers but the job will be his first as NHL head coach.

"Craig is one of the smartest guys I've ever been around," said Holmgren. "He demands respect, he holds people accountable and he's a no-B.S. kind of guy. I'm looking forward to Craig taking over the team."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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