Looks like he'll have to settle for being No. 4.
Stevens became the season's first coaching casualty Friday afternoon when the axe that had been poised over his neck for the better part of a year finally fell. The move was made with the Flyers mired in a 1-6 slump that saw the preseason Stanley Cup favorites slide from sixth to 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the team's maddening inconsistency, it was a difficult decision for Holmgren. "It was a hard walk for me today to walk to John's office. A hard walk," he said at a Friday night press conference. "It might have been the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
After spending 15 years working his way up the organizational ladder with Stevens, he knew this wasn't entirely a mess of the coach's making. Injuries played a role in the skid, with
It will probably be forgotten that the Flyers played pretty well over his final two games. They outshot the Thrashers 34-18 and outchanced them by an equally wide margin in a 1-0 loss, then came on strong in the final two stanzas against Vancouver, launching 29 shots over those frantic frames in an effort to dent
Fair to say this wasn't a team that gave up on its coach, but trying doesn't count for near as many points in the standings as winning. And the 13-11-1 Flyers weren't doing enough of the latter to justify his continued employment.
The consensus is that Stevens proved himself to be a bright, thoughtful coach with a solid understanding of the game during his three-year tenure, but that his muted style was better suited for a young, developing team. That's a description that no longer fit a max-cap Flyers club that aimed straight for the Cup with the summer acquisitions of Pronger and
No guarantees Laviolette can do the same for Philly, but he'll bring that fresh voice that spurred the Canes.
For all his talents, Stevens simply had run out of things to say. It was time for him to go.