Players Stunned by News of Stevens’ Firing

According to reports, Flyers players were stunned when informed of John Stevens’ firing. I’m guessing that this is especially true of the younger players like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who were coached by Stevens while they were in the AHL with the Phantoms. I’m not sure why they were stunned – they had to realize that the unacceptable effort and lack of urgency with which they were playing wasn’t going to be tolerated for much longer. Losing six of seven, being shut out two games in a row (once by the defense-pitiful Thrashers), and currently being in the middle of the conference and out of the playoffs just begged for a coaching change to be made. More likely, the players are feeling like the party’s over. Time for the young players to get their minds away from the next party and refocus on the game. Laviolette, who has a reputation of being tough on players and not being too tolerant of mistakes and lack of effort, should get the players’ priorities straightened out.

A couple of reports (ESPN and Howard Eskin) have said that captain Mike Richards has relinquished the captaincy to Chris Pronger. This was not indicated at last night’s news conference when GM Paul Holmgren claerly stated that Richards was the captain. However, after Laviolette takes over it is possible that a change in captaincy could occur. I think it should happen. Richards, like Stevens, is a quiet sort who does not (or cannot) get in his teammates’ faces and it is believed that Richards never really wanted the captaincy anyway. Pronger, who has captained several teams and won the Cup, can definitely call people out when necessary. He has stayed out of Richards’ way with regard to the captain’s role, but they might as well make the change in leadership across the board. These players need to be held accountable; it would be best to have both the coach and captain with the same approach.

Flyers host the Capitals tonight at the Wachovia Center – should be an interesting evening.

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