The Washington Capitals wanted an experienced head coach to lead them next season, and they’ll have it. The team has announced the hiring of Peter Laviolette, who will take over the bench from Todd Reirden who was let go earlier this summer. Laviolette has signed a three-year contract worth just under $15MM total according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, which will include the full $2.5MM he was still owed by the Nashville Predators.
Capitals GM Brian MacLellan released a statement on his new coach:
Peter is a successful NHL head coach who has won a Stanley Cup and brings a wealth of experience to our team. We feel he is a great communicator who will motivate our players to play with passion, structure and discipline, while helping our young players reach their potential. In addition, he is a high-character individual who is highly respected for his coaching pedigree, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Laviolette, 55, has been a head coach in the NHL for two decades, recording a 637-425-25-123 record in his 1,210 regular season games. Those 1,200 games put him 20th on the all-time list and he has taken his club to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, winning in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Capitals had shown interest in other experienced names like Gerard Gallant and Mike Babcock, but will move forward with a coach that had a .616 winning percentage at his last stop but still got fired after a mediocre start to 2019-20. Laviolette and the Predators were 19-15-7 when they made the move to hire John Hynes, leaving him looking for another opportunity.
Reirden, the Capitals outgoing coach, has already found work with his old team the Pittsburgh Penguins as an assistant. That experiment didn’t work out nearly as well as the Capitals hoped when they let Barry Trotz leave months after winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, only to hand the reins to a rookie head coach. Reirden lasted just two seasons behind the bench while Trotz is now in the Eastern Conference Finals with the New York Islanders.
Hiring Laviolette will serve as an attempt to fix that mistake, but the Capitals core is now two years older and Alex Ovechkin is heading into the final year of his deal. There are certainly young exciting players in Washington like goaltending phenom Ilya Samsonov, but the last two years seem like wasted opportunities for this group now that they’ve paid up for an experienced head coach after all.