On Sunday, April 2nd, the Flyers ECHL Affiliate, the Reading Royals grabbed the last playoff spot in the North Division. With a 5-3 win over the Wheeling Nailers, the Royals have secured their 8th consecutive playoff appearance. In each of those eight seasons, the Royals have been lead by head coach Larry Courville.
Reading Royals have qualified for the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. Larry Courville made it every full season as head coach.
— Jason Guarente (@JasonGuarente) April 2, 2017
A day after clinching a playoff spot, the Royals announced that head coach, Larry Courville would be relieved of his duties, with three games left in the regular season. “We thank Larry for his service with the team, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.” Royals owner Jack Gulati stated through the official website. Courville and the Royals were set to go their separate ways at the end of the season due to a disagreement over his contract extension.
“It’s very difficult for me,” Courville said to Jason Guarente of the Reading Eagle. “I wanted to be here. I spent a long time here. I’ve been very involved with this team. It has been my life. It’s disappointing.” The Royals have a 336-207-53 record during Courville’s tenure as head coach, giving Courville the 2nd most wins with a single franchise in the ECHL.
Kirk MacDonald will take over as interim head coach and has been serving as the assistant coach since 2014. Courville’s contract was set to expire on June 30th, no word on why he was let go early.
Courville’s early release completes a sudden change in the Royals system since General Manager, Drew Bell left the team in late March. The Flyers ECHL affiliate will head into the playoffs looking for their 2nd Kelly Cup without the leadership that got them there. Hopefully removing the coach prematurely doesn’t hurt the team too much.