Peter Laviolette is the name that everyone keeps circling back to. After mutually agreeing to no longer coach the Capitals, he might be the highest profile name getting serious consideration here…
If it’s an experienced veteran with a great track record you want, look no further. Laviolette has been a head coach in the NHL for a total of 21 seasons. He has a record of 752-503-150 (plus 25 ties) in 1,430 games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, and has been the bench boss for 5 NHL teams throughout his career.
This is a guy who has a history of getting the most out of his teams, not dissimilar to John Tortorella. He’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, and with this young, talented Jackets group, he could be the coach who pushes them into the stratosphere as Cup contenders.
The main benefit here would be reputation. Laviolette would bring a notable face, with an imposing, commanding presence to the locker room. Accountability would be a huge portion of his coaching scheme; getting everyone to play hard in all three zones and under the same system. This could make for a quick turn-around here, which seems to be appealing to ownership and management – and the fans.
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Now, there are downsides to this hiring as well. Laviolette has come into question for his unwillingness to play younger players for the Washington Capitals – which is hugely concerning for us, because we have such a young team. In fact, this team will be relying heavily on its prospects to turn things around, rather than the veterans who are here.
Secondly, Laviolette will not come cheap. As one of the premier coaches in the NHL, there is at least one other team rumored to be vying for his services. If it comes down to a bidding war, it’s hard to see the Jackets standing a chance of landing him – the New York Rangers just have much deeper pockets.
Ultimately, if the Jackets did go this route and try to land Laviolette, it should serve as a signal that this team wants to turn the corner as early as next year. I don’t see them hiring this kind of coach to scrap and claw all season, only to wind up with another lottery pick. This is the coach you hire to try and make the playoffs. Are the Jackets ready for that quite yet?