Peter Laviolette Has No Use For The Book

peter laviolette all Peter Laviolette Has No Use For The BookThere is nothing, and I mean nothing, that drives me crazier, in life or in sports, than the book.The book?  What book?

Folks, if you are not familiar with ‘the book’, it is the accepted way of doing things, in any walk of life.  The book is the way ‘they’ say things are supposed to get done.  Who are ‘they’, you might ask?

And that, my friends, is exactly my point.  ‘They’ are, by definition, other people.  In other words, use other people’s procedures and philosophies to make your decisions.  Why would you do that?  Are you ‘they’, or are you ‘you’?

I understand that in life, and particularly in sports, some decisions are automatic.  In baseball, a manager is going to almost always pinch hit for the starting pitcher in the ninth inning of a game in which his team is trailing.  In hockey, a coach will always remove the goaltender in the waning minutes of a big game in which his team trails by one goal.  In football, the coach has his quarterback take a knee to run out the clock in a game in which his team is ahead.  I get it.  The book makes sense a large percentage of the time.

However, as the decisions turn from black and white to gray, the pages of the book fade to invisible ink as well, in Jolly’s world.  Why?  Simple, my dear Watson.  If one’s job hangs in the balance of the results of his or her decisions, they might as well be his or hers, not ‘theirs’.  The book is the safe way to do things, to avoid criticism, to follow and not to lead.  Sometimes it is the right way, but many times it is not.  Since most people in life are afraid to fail more so than ready to accept risk and go for it, the book is a way to let other people think or react for themselves.

There are reasons that certain people are hired to coach or manage certain teams, and they have nothing to do with ‘the book’ in any sport.  I can teach the book of football to a five year old, or a disinterested housewife, or the Finnish Ambassador to the United Nations (and I apologize if you are reading this, Mr. or Mrs. Ambassador, and are a football fan).  But what these people do not have is feel, the instinctive knack of making a decision based on one’s gut.

Who are my players?  What are their strengths?  Are they hot, or cold?  Is there a matchup to be exploited in this situation?  Do I sense that momentum is swaying in either direction?  Is my opponent tired, or injured, or vulnerable?  Feel is like chemistry or momentum.  They are words that are not easy to define by Webster’s, but very definable by the experienced gut of a secure leader.

What do I mean by a secure leader?  Again, easy.  This is a person that does not care what you, I, the fans, or anyone else thinks about whatever decision he or she makes.  I make a living critiquing these decisions, yet I respect a person that could not care less what I think.  Do you get that?  You should, because it is not your neck on the line if the move does not work.  Wins, losses, and championships are the only critiques great leaders need in sports, and with that we come to Peter Laviolette.

Peter Laviolette is a taskmaster, a great leader, and a born winner.  He is courteous with his time, humble to all around him, and respectful of the opinions of others.  He is all of these before and after the game.  During the game, he relies on experience and savvy to get the job done, not what anyone else would do in that situation.  The other evening, in game 7 in Boston, he called a timeout with his team down 3-0 in the first period.

Remember, in hockey a team only gets one timeout per game, and it is a precious chance to rest players or impart strategy.  Now, the timing of this timeout was rather obvious, but the message was not.  He told his team to get one goal.  He didn’t go crazy, he had enough respect for his players to know that going berserk could not highlight the moment any more than the scoreboard already was.

Peter also knew that Rome was not built in a day, and that hat tricks cannot be scored with one shot.  Calm down, team, get one back, and then we’ll get another, and another.  Panic was replaced by a sense of purpose, and you saw what happened.  Of course, players have to make these things happen, but their mood is set by the coach.  In a game 7, the last thing the Flyers needed was a shaken bunch of guys in a hostile arena.

In game 1 of the Montreal series, Laviolette again called a timeout.  In the second period.  With his team leading 4-0.  Huh?  Would ‘the book’ tell a coach to do that?  Well, the Flyers had iced the puck, and his gut told him that yeah, this game might be nearly in the bag, but that a bigger picture was in front of his men.  If 4-0 becomes 4-1, if a big lead causes malaise, then the proverbial skate is off the throat of the Canadiens, and this could breathe life into Montreal either now or later in the series.

No, this timeout was about momentum, and keeping that skate on the throat, with games down the road in mind.  Never let up was the message.  In the third period, 4-0 became 5-0 and 6-0, and Uncle Mo stayed with the Orange and Black.

Is Danny Briere a winger?  Well, Peter Laviolette moved him to center, and look what happened.  A hunch?  Maybe.  Danny has played plenty of center.  I think that Laviolette felt that sometimes shifting the apple cart just might shift the apples, and Briere is going Briserk this postseason.

Michael Leighton has been fantastic for the Flyers this season.  Who?  The book said that he was a backup, and a tenuous one at that.  Yeah, the Michael Leighton that Laviolette believed in down Carolina way.  No one else did, but he did, and with a bit of magic from goaltending coach Jeff Reese, looky here, as some might say.

I could go on and on about optional skates, practice, and other things Laviolette does his way.  All good coaches or managers do.

Jim Fregosi went by the book in 1993, took out a hot Roger Mason, brought in David West, and, well, nevermind.  Roger Mason was a ham and egger, but the ham and eggs tasted mighty good that day.

Some coaches go by ‘the book’ and do not foul a three point shooter in the final seconds of a game that his or her team leads by three.  Many have the book handed to them as a going away present when they get fired, as well.  Be secure, trust your instincts, and be ready to live with the results.  Want a book?  Get a kindle.

Will the Flyers win The Stanley Cup?  That, my friends, will be answered very soon.  However, Peter Laviolette will not find the keys to that answer, or at least the best ways to potentially make it happen, at Barnes and Noble.  He, thankfully, has lost the book.


One Comment

  1. Alex says:

    Paul – to answer your question why you are stunned that no Giants fans are calling, I would simply have to tell you that because I would guess about 0.83% of your listeners are Giants fans. Also, I am not as confident as you are that the Giants have no chance to win. I would hope you realize that there have been much bigger upsets in the NFL season than the Giants beating the Eagles as a HUGE, ASTOUNDING 3 point underdog! Of course, 3 point underdogs never win! Please. Tone it down with the constant homer talk. Doesn’t part of your job description include NOT being a cheerleader?

    1. Alex says:

      Oh, and by the way, your little speech about disregarding the line when betting sports was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve followed your football picks and you are hovering around .500. I’m 23-10 this year and I follow the line very, very closely. Mike Missanelli on the other sports station has also been winning all year and he doesn’t even know the players on the team he bets. The line is BY FAR the most important thing to consider when betting. That’s why YOU are paying the bank, this season, pal.

      1. Alex says:

        You also said that “if you look at the line, then you are a compulsive gambling addict.” Wait, what? So people that have a different betting technique than you are gambling addicts, even though you give out bets every time you’re on the radio? You can’t be serious. What a disgrace. I wish i could call into your show and voice these thoughts but you will just cut me off when you sense that you’ve lost the argument.

  2. John says:

    To correct that first sentence: “Why do you insist on scolding callers like a coward after you cut them off?” I realize that you’re the kind of loser that berates people for small grammatical errors, so I had to make sure to edit that.

  3. John says:

    Paul, why do you insist on scolding callers after they hang up like a coward? I assure you that most of the people whose intelligence you insult make more money than you. Do yourself a favor and get a real job before you begin thinking you’re better than everyone else. You may also want to look into voice lessons to fix that problem you have.

  4. kelly says:

    Greetings from Ukraine!
    Paul, great thoughts and insights in your article. Peter Laviolette has a gift of feeling and understanding his team under pressure. With all due respect to Hitch and John Stevens, I dont think they would have called a timeout (remember that 6-0 or 7-0 loss to Buffalo or Ottawa a few years back?) and calmed the players did like Peter.

    I think the Goalie coach deserves an MVP award for this team and I think it is safe that Peter will get the coach of the year award.

    1. Paul Jolovitz says:


      Jeff Reese has been a find as their goalie coach this season.


  5. Smitty says:

    Yo, Paulie!! Nice article. I was on Broad st. back in the day. I’m in SC now. Game 7 vs bruins I stumbled onto WIP’s net feed. Down 3-zip, i almost bailed but thought NO!! hang in there. I did. The Flyers did, and team history was made. I’ve been listening ever since and we haven’t lost yet. The only book that comes to mind is “Midnight in the garden of good and evil” I’m right across the river from Savanah Ga. in Beaufort county where Dr. Buzzard once held sway. There ‘aint no book to explain it.Team superstitions aside….. Who do de voodoo like I do? The Flyers do, that’s who. I’m really looking forward to another parade on Broad st. Howsa ’bout chu?

    1. Paul Jolovitz says:


      Bring on the parade! I hope to see you. Thanks for listening.


  6. Larry says:


    I was out of town when they replaced Stevens. Can you assess each of these coaches in your next article?

    1. Paul Jolovitz says:


      After the season, maybe I’ll do a piece on this. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Rick says:


    Glad I can help w/ the Meisner Technique lesson. Truth be told, I just learned it myself as I was writing that post (thanks wikipedia), although I do have a few actor friends that could of helped me out with that…In regards to this ‘No Use For The Book’ column, all I can say is, like minds…really enjoy your work.


    1. Paul Jolovitz says:


      Thanks and I’ll keep ’em coming.


  8. Jeff Sharon says:

    Paul, Great piece! But I must say, I’m very surprised by your extensive use of cliches (e.g., ham and egger, ‘Why? Simple my dear Watson”, and the ultimate; “Rome was not built in a day.”) I’m surprised by your use of hackneyed phrases and the appearance of such apathy in your writing. Perhaps you should dust off that old Yale knapsack, pull out that Journalism text, and realize you do have a use for “THE BOOK.”

    1. Paul Jolovitz says:


      If you know me, you know that apathy is not in my vocabulary. Cliches can be fun ways to make points and give both the serious fan and casual reader the same flavor. Cliches are cliches for a reason, they do make sense. Thanks for the nice words, but the next time I dust off my knapsack, it will be Penn’s. Yale? Go Quakers! Seriously, thanks for the kind words.


      1. Shawn D. says:

        jolly – two things! 1. great call on holland. 9-1 was a great call. they just beat brazil and whether they win or lose it was an amazing pick.

        2. what was the answer to your trivia question about what happens twice in a hockey game at the same time. etc.


      2. Paul Jolovitz says:


        Thanks for the love.
        Here is the answer. Player A scores, but play continues as it is not called a goal immediately. The whistle stops play for a penalty shot by the same person. The goal is reviewed, and counts. Player A converts the penalty, and two goals are scored at the same instant.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Philly

Getaway Guide To Iconic Carousels
Getaway Summer Slopes

Watch & Listen LIVE