Panthers-Flyers Preview

The Associated Press

(AP) -- - On the first day of training camp, the Philadelphia Flyers were already a mess.

By the end of the preseason, chairman Ed Snider had grave concerns about the team he founded.

"I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I've ever seen," Snider said. "Nobody shined. Nobody looked good. I couldn't point to one thing that I thought was a positive.

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"Unfortunately, my worries were realized."

After a winless start, the Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette on Monday, three seasons after he led them to the Stanley Cup finals. Assistant Craig Berube, in his seventh season coaching within the organization, was promoted to replace Laviolette.

Berube is the 18th coach in franchise history and will make his debut when Philadelphia hosts the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Despite a preseason vote of confidence from ownership, Laviolette just couldn't overcome a punchless offense, a pair of journeymen in goal and a patchwork defense to jolt the Flyers out of their funk and keep his job.

He dealt with rumors of his firing last season, a year in which the Flyers missed the playoffs after the lockout-shortened campaign. It was the only season in which he failed to make the postseason in Philadelphia.

General manager Paul Holmgren tried to mold a playoff roster in the offseason, signing forward Vincent Lecavalier, defenseman 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."

After a 1-5-1 preseason, the Flyers lost their opener at home last week to Toronto, then lost games on consecutive days over the weekend to Montreal and Carolina. With captain Claude Giroux without a point, and forwards Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn stagnant, they were outscored 9-3.

Enter Berube, who had 20 goals and 54 points over parts of seven seasons with the Flyers during a 17-year NHL career. He'll be joined by new assistants Ian Laperriere and former Ottawa coach John Paddock. Kevin McCarthy, a part of Laviolette's staff, was fired.

"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 have my own thoughts. I have my own way of how I want to coach."

Snider is banking on Berube to help turn the team around. Holmgren still has Snider's support even as move after move - starting with the unexpected dismantling of the young core of the 2010 finals team - has backfired.

"I think Paul did an excellent job over the summer with the three players he brought in," Snider said. "It remains to be seen if we were right or wrong."

The new era begins against a Florida team coming off a dismal 7-0 loss to St. Louis on Saturday. The Panthers (1-1-0) were outshot 34-19 after firing 39 shots on net in a 4-2 win over Dallas in Thursday's season opener.

"It was a man's game and we didn't rise to the occasion," coach Kevin Dineen said.

Tim Thomas, the former Boston goaltender named the Panthers' starter after taking a one-year sabbatical, looked sharp while making 25 saves in the opener. He allowed five goals before being pulled after the second period Saturday.

"That's a lesson," Thomas said. "That can happen in this league."

Thomas, who is uncertain to start this contest, is 14-2-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average in his last 17 versus the Flyers, including the postseason.

It's unclear if the Flyers, who have dropped three of the last four meetings with Florida, will start Emery or Steve Mason in net for this game.

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