If you thought mean ol’ Philadelphia had shed its reputation as a tough sports town, think again.
On Monday morning, just three games into the NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers fired head coach Peter Laviolette, making Chip Kelly — yes, five-games-into-his-debut-season Chip Kelly — the longest-tenured coach in town.
Laviolette came to the City of Brotherly Love in 2009 and immediately guided the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup appearance in 13 years, a track record many franchises would be thrilled with — St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal and the New York Islanders among them.
But in Philly, where even the briefest of slides isn’t tolerated, a 10th-place finish in a lockout-shortened season and an 0-3 start to the current one is enough to warrant a pink slip.
Just think about some of the coaches who have been canned in the last few months during something of a changing of the guard in Philadelphia.
Charlie Manuel guided the Phillies in back-to-back World Series, winning a title in 2008, and won 102 games as recently as 2011 before being fired in August, left to drown his sorrows in a Wawa sub.
Doug Collins inherited a sad-sack 76ers team that won 27 games in Eddie Jordan’s only season at the helm and immediately took it to the playoffs, coming within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011. But with a major rebuilding process staring him in the face, Collins resigned in April, handing the reins over to Brett Brown instead.
Over at Lincoln Financial Field, Andy Reid was run out of town after just his third sub-.500 season in a 14-year run that included nine playoff appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl. And already after five games, some consider Kelly’s job about as safe as a tourist with a Pat’s cup in line at Geno’s.
"We all underperformed — players, coaches, myself — and we’ve got to get better," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said at the end of last season. "I’m not unhappy with the coaches. I think they did a good job under the circumstances. But we’re sitting here today talking and the playoffs are going to start in two days and we’re not in them, so that’s not good.
"I think Peter is a strong motivator,” Holmgren added at the time. “I think he’s a strong tactician and I expect him to lead our team back into the playoffs next year."
Well, Laviolette never really got that chance. And now he’s been replaced, for the time being anyway, by a guy who, if nothing else, meshes well with Philadelphia’s tough-guy image.
Assistant coach Craig Berube spent 17 years as an NHL enforcer and ranks seventh all-time in penalty minutes over the course of his 1,054 professional games. He’s even been known to fight officials, something that should serve him well as the head man behind the bench.
But Berube knows as well as anyone that not even the toughest tough-guy is safe in Philly, where the beat writers will throw a fit over just about anything and where success truly is considered the only option.