PHILADELPHIA (Lighthouse Press) _ Philadelphia Flyers chairman and founder Ed Snider said his team has lacked fight in recent years. On Tuesday, he hired a boxing champ to lead them.
Oscar-nominated actor/writer/director Sylvester Stallone was named head coach of the Flyers on Tuesday, one day after Craig Berube was promoted to the position. On Monday, Berube had replaced Peter Laviolette, who was fired after four seasons.
Stallone, the star of the Rocky and Rambo movie series as well as many other notable films, has no head coaching experience in the NHL. He will debut as Flyers coach during Tuesday night's home game against the Florida Panthers.
Stallone said his plan is to let the players bring their individual talents to the game but to play within his overall vision, much like how a director controls the cast on a movie set.
"I made myself a success in the movie business with hard work and a belief in myself. I can do that again with the Flyers," Stallone said at his introductory press conference at the Wells Fargo Center. "Rocky started as an idea and I made him into an icon. I took Rambo from a character in an obscure book and transformed him into an American hero. I made Stop or My Mom Will Shoot a rallying cry for a generation.
"Flyers fans, mark my words: I got the Eye of the Tiger."
While acknowledging how unusual it is to fire a coach before a team plays a single game under him then replace him with a Hollywood icon, Snider was adamant that this move was the right one for the Flyers, who are still looking for their first Stanley Cup since 1975.
"I watched yesterday's practice and thought, quite frankly, was one of the worst practices I've ever seen," Snider said. "I'm not talking about drills and exercises. There was nothing exciting. Nobody shined. Nobody looked good. I couldn't point to one thing that I thought was a positive.
"So after practice, I immediately had my Girl Friday get Sly on the blower and he agreed to fly down today and take the job. I'm tickled pink."
Snider does not think having three head coaches in two days will have any negative effects on the Flyers' performance or their public perception.
"Our culture doesn't need changing," he said. "We have always been about results. And Sylvester Stallone is a man who gets results."
Stallone burst onto the Hollywood scene as an extra in Woody Allen's Bananas in 1971. But writing and starring in 1977 Best Picture-winner Rocky established Stallone as a true power-broker in the movie business. He played Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa in a string of sequels, making the New York-born Stallone a favorite son in the city.
"I love Philly and feel at home here," Stallone said in his famous guttural drawl. "The people, the energy, the spirit. I feel like there's another Adrienne, Rocky and Pauly on every street corner."
While Stallone has no administrative background in team sports, he said he would call upon his varied roles in physical action movies to prepare for his new position.
"I've played a boxer. I've played Rambo in four movies. I've played a mountain climber in Cliffhanger, a soccer player in Victory and an arm wrestling champion in Over The Top. I've played cops in over 75 movies.
"Hard work doesn't scare me. Although, having Rambo and Cobra as their coach might scare some of the players."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren tried to mold a playoff roster in the offseason, signing forward Vinny 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 and thinks Stallone is the right man to put the pieces together, unlike the previous two coaches the Flyers have had since last week.
"I like what Sylvester brings to the team," Holmgren said. "And I don't care what anyone says. I thought Tango & Cash was a terrific picture."
Stallone said he expects to coach Tuesday's game against the Panthers by himself and add longtime collaborators Carl Weathers and Burt Young to his staff by the end of the week.
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THIS IS A SATIRE. STALLONE IS NOT THE FLYERS COACH. CRAIG BERUBE IS. FOR NOW.