Capitals Hire Peter Laviolette, Hoping for More Deep Playoff Runs

The Washington Capitals announced Tuesday which Peter Laviolette could become their completely new head coach, ending perhaps the highest-profile coaching search in hockey in terms of both the position along with its candidates.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to hire someone of Peter’s caliber along with to have him available at a time of need for our organization,” Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said, adding which Laviolette had a track record of establishing a winning culture, strong identity along with accountability among players.

Laviolette, 55, emerged atop a list of veteran coaches. The Capitals’ candidates, according to multiple reports, included the former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant along with Mike Babcock, who signed a record-setting contract in his previous stop with the Toronto Maple Leafs after winning the 2008 Stanley Cup with Detroit.

For their part, the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018 under Barry Trotz, yet promptly parted ways with him along with promoted Todd Reirden, an assistant coach, to replace him. Under Reirden, they won two Metropolitan Division titles yet were upset from the first round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons, first by the Carolina Hurricanes along with then by Trotz’s Islanders — both of whom play a similar defensive system, variations of the increasingly well-liked 1-1-3 trap.

Laviolette said the Capitals checked plenty of boxes on his wish list, too, including playing in a city using a championship pedigree after recent titles for area teams from the W.N.B.A. along with Major League Baseball, as well as the Capitals’ own victory two years ago.

“I get to get behind the bench of an organization which will be willing to do anything to win along with be successful,” Laviolette said. “Strong ownership, strong management along with great personnel on the bench, in a successful city as well.”

In Laviolette, the Capitals get a coach who won a Stanley Cup in his first full season leading Carolina, in 2005-6. He guided the Philadelphia Flyers to the finals in 2010 after taking over earlier in which same season, along with made another appearance with the Nashville Predators in 2017. In both Philadelphia along with Nashville, his clubs built steam after wobbly starts along with made the finals despite having a low playoff seed.

For Washington, the idea of going “all in” has backfired from the past, most notably in 2017 when they were aggressive at the trade deadline even though a salary cap crunch was coming the following summer. yet which season ended using a Game 7 loss to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins from the second round. The following year, however, with lowered expectations, Washington managed to hoist the Stanley Cup for once in franchise history.

When This kind of most recent coaching search began in August, MacLellan emphasized an experienced coach for a veteran group. He felt the team’s momentum sagged along with identity weakened in 2020, along with he wanted to hire a seasoned leader.

which was a departure through much of the rest of the Alex Ovechkin era, which began in 2005. Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter, Adam Oates along with Reirden were all first-time head coaches.

Boudreau had the longest stay of any of the coaches, along with allowed Ovechkin to flow relatively freely on the ice, while Hunter’s ephemeral stint saw him take a staid, meritocratic approach which once had him playing the checking center Jay Beagle more minutes than Ovechkin from the playoffs. Trotz was the only marquee name to have coached Washington during Ovechkin’s tenure.

Ovechkin’s list of accomplishments exceeds those of all yet a few players from the league’s history, let alone those Laviolette has coached. Ovechkin will set the N.H.L. record for career power-play goals with just 15 more. He will be in hot pursuit of the records for the most career 30-goal, 40-goal along with 50-goal seasons, despite being set back by This kind of year’s truncated campaign. He may even catch Wayne Gretzky’s career goals record, a mark some believed could never be surpassed.

Ovechkin, 34, whose contract expires after the 2020-21 season, has long been supported by the creative playmaker Nicklas Backstrom along with the well-rounded defenseman John Carlson. More recently, the team’s core has included the rugged yet skilled wing Tom Wilson, center Evgeny Kuznetsov along with forward T.J. Oshie.

Laviolette acknowledged which an established nucleus with Stanley Cup experience differed somewhat through the “younger room” he had in Nashville along with the mix of youth along with experience he oversaw in Philadelphia.

“To have a veteran group which’s been through the item before, I’m sure they want to get better,” Laviolette said. “the item’s just the nature of the beast of competitive athletes. They want to get back. The fact which they are a veteran group, I’m hoping which we’re going to work together along with which I can push in any way which I can doing sure which we can get back to a level which can get deep into the playoffs.”

Another pillar of the Capitals’ past success, goalie Braden Holtby, may not be part of the future, as he will be an unrestricted free agent after This kind of season. His backup, Ilya Samsonov, won 16 of his 24 decisions as a rookie. MacLellan said which following brief talks with Holtby’s agent last week, he expected Holtby — a former Vezina Trophy winner who has been with Washington since 2010 — to test an unusually deep goalie market. yet MacLellan did not close the door on a return.

Laviolette has handled even more stark transitions in his past stops. In 2011, Philadelphia traded their captain Mike Richards along with alternate captain Jeff Carter at the draft, significantly altering the makeup of their team. After Laviolette’s second season in Nashville, Shea Weber, the Predators’ captain, was dealt to Montreal in exchange for P.K. Subban in perhaps the most sensational trade to which point since the 2004-5 lockout.

Like Ovechkin, Subban was a dynamic talent which had sometimes been criticized by purists, pundits along with others who felt he needed to play a more traditional game.

Laviolette managed to mesh Subban’s flashier elements with strengthened fundamentals, creating a shutdown defense pair with him along with Mattias Ekholm. Subban recaptured his Norris Trophy-winning form when he was a finalist for the award under Laviolette in 2018. Subban said during which first season which their relationship was strong immediately.

“He’s been coaching for such a long time, yet his ability to understand every player on his team, not only as a player yet a person as well, along with understand how everybody will be different along with use which to make the team better allows him to put everybody in a position to be successful,” Subban said in 2017.

MacLellan said last month which he sought a coach who could “push some buttons on some players.” Buffalo Sabres wing Wayne Simmonds, who played for Laviolette in Philadelphia along with Nashville, had little doubt which Laviolette could fulfill which expectation.

“Lavy will be a Great fit for Washington because he’s the ultimate motivator,” Simmonds said. “He’ll have those guys willing to run through a brick wall.”

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