After a three-week search, the Washington Capitals have found their new head coach. Peter Laviolette becomes Capitals ’19. coach in franchise history and seventh of the Alex Ovechkin Era (15 seasons). For Ovechkin, Laviolette will only be the second coach he has played under who previously had coaching experience in the NHL.
The news was first reported by Elliotte Friedman.
Hearing Peter Laviolette become the next head coach of WASH
– Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 15, 2020
Peter Laviolette accepts a 3-year deal to coach Washington Capitals.
– Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 15, 2020
Update, 08:28: We also have a rough idea of his salary via Pierre LeBrun:
Laviolette still had a year left on his old Predators deal for $ 2.5 million. I’m told going forward that the caps are taking all this up. Preds are off the hook. https://t.co/YbKiqTrQCe
– Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 15, 2020
Told the deal is worth north of $ 4 million. About the year https://t.co/0o17lMtm2f
– Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 15, 2020
When Brian MacLellan fired Todd Reirden on August 23, Capital’s general manager cited his desire for a veteran head coach who could “press some buttons” after another loss in a row in the first round of the playoffs.
MacLellan added in a team release that the organization has “higher expectations for our team and we felt a new approach to leadership was needed.”
The burning Laviolette would definitely fit that bill. Franklin, Massachusetts, has coached a total of 1,210 games in the NHL over an 18-year coaching career that saw him behind the bench for the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. His record is 637-425-25-123. Laviolette, who worked in minor leagues most of his career, played 12 NHL games as a player, all for the New York Rangers in the 1988-89 season.
As a coach, Laviolette led the Carolina Hurricanes to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2006. He also coached the Philadelphia Flyers (2009–10) and Nashville Predators (2016–17) to the Stanley Cup final on two other occasions. He is only the fourth coach in NHL history to lead three different teams to the Stanley Cup final.
The Nashville Predators fired Laviolette in January after the team was about to miss the playoffs. The team had eerie special teams through January. Capitals received permission from the Predators to interview Laviolette as the coach still has one year left on his contract.
“Under the leadership of Peter and Kevin, our organization reached unprecedented heights – from our franchise-changing race to the Stanley Cup final to a presidential trophy and our first two Central Division titles,” Predators CEO David Poile said in a press release. then. “Their passion for the game, their ability to motivate a team and drive to be the best makes this a difficult decision. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Peter and Kevin for all their contributions to the Nashville Predators over the past five and a half seasons. ”
Laviolette was one of three apparent finalists for Capital’s job, including Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant. Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau also spoke to the Capitals early in the process, according to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
While Laviolette has turned teams around quickly, he also has a history of prosecuting these clubs’ offenses, according to Micah Blake McCurdy.
Laviolette, by the way, (not accidentally) consistently and seriously damages his team’s offense. With a proper coach, Preds will be cup faves or close. pic.twitter.com/ohgPwT0CuA
– Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 29, 2019
Laviolette has also had some problematic interactions with players. Laviolette hit Ville Leino in the head while coaching the Flyers.
– coach sporps #blm (@OVECHKlN) August 31, 2020
“There are a lot of emotions in the game. Coaches get fired and things happen. Leino later told ESPN. “I do not think Peter tried to beat me, and it looks worse in the video than it was … Peter was a very passionate and emotional coach. It made him good, but sometimes things like this happened. Nevertheless, it should not happen. ”
Laviolette later explained to The Tennessean that “I was trying to get my team motivated and I went to punch my fist in my hand. I cracked the back of his helmet. In no way was it meant as physical abuse, nor have I ever had physical abuse with a player. ”
Daniel Carcillo also said his former coach “was one of those guys who likes to be a ‘rah-rah’ guy, send yourself out to fight when you know he never fought.”
Last night we talked about the latest decline in #Preds, Kyle Turris coming back to the lineup, handing out a Kobyashi Maru and talking to @ CarBombBoom13 in detail about the addiction issues coming to light around hockey and more (starting at 4pm : 05).
– The neutral zone (@ NeutralZone1045) December 5, 2019
“First was a suggestion from (Carcillo) that I use my position of power inside a locker room to bully or … challenge players to go out there and fight,” Laviolette said in response. “It could not be further from the truth.”
Capitals hope Laviolette’s passion can come out in a positive way and push the team to the next level after hitting the playoffs the two years after winning the Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are entering the twilight of their careers and this is the team’s last big chance to win the Stanley Cup again with the team’s current core.