Find contact with Ovechkin or wear a bull’s head. What will be “Washington” Lavioletta
Lavioletta’s credo is the result right now
On the day of the dismissal of the previous head coach of “Capital” Todd Rearden , the general manager of “Washington” Brian McLellan said that the team needed an experienced coach who could “press the right buttons” when it comes to managing experienced hockey players; could preach structural hockey and hold players accountable as the overall corporate culture of the team began to slowly slip.
Laviolette fits all these requirements perfectly. He has no experience – Peter is ranked 16th in NHL history in victories and is one of four mentors who led three different teams to the Stanley Cup final. Therefore, Lavioletta can be considered a completely successful specialist who has earned a reputation as a coach who can quickly correct an unfavorable situation. True, Lavioletta has a “limited shelf life”: he worked most of all in “Nashville” (6 seasons), where he obviously stayed up by the end of the term. With “Carolina” he became the champion in the first year of work, with “Philadelphia” in the first year he reached the final, and “Nashville” made a finalist for the third season.
It is obvious that Washington is expecting exactly this from Lavioletta – the maximum result right now. An aging core of the team, a closing window of opportunity and a coach who knows how to deliver the right pace in a limited time – this alliance may be just perfect in the coming season. Laviolette and promises of a brighter future, Laviolette and long-term work – things do not go well together. Peter is able to return the spark to a team that won the Stanley Cup just 27 months ago and still has a certain amount of fuel in the gas tank, but needs some straightening.
Lavioletta’s job is not to make Capitals fans forget about Barry Trotz , because this is impossible. But, without a doubt, Trotz is not the only coach who is able to raise the Cup above his head when working in the Capitals camp. In short, Laviolette arrived at Washington on time, as the team has nuts that need to be tightened.
Laviolette is Washington’s new coach! Will Ovechkin win the second Stanley Cup with him?
The American specialist has received a solid long-term contract. But the questions will be tough.
“Do whatever it takes”
“Peter is a good motivator, capable of bright, emotional speeches in the locker room. Trotz never yelled at us. I can’t say that Laviolette is either, but he is more strict than Barry, “said one of the Nashville players, who managed to play under the supervision of both mentors.
For Lavioletta there are no authorities in the team, and in this light his joining the team is very interesting, where the word Alexander Ovechkin is significant, where there is a quiet leader Niklas Beckström , where he plays finalist of the Norris Trophy voting, but not keeping up with the defense John Carlson . The new Capitals coach will not be shy and will probably make it so that Evgeny Kuznetsov wonders why he has not realized his potential in the playoffs for two years in a row. Michal Kempny will give him a feel for the difference in his game now and two years ago, and Nick Jensen will understand what needs to be done to renew the contract he recently signed.
As part of the champion Carolina, Laviolette came up with some interesting psychological tricks, including special coins with the inscription: “Do whatever it takes.” They were distributed to every hockey player and had to be carried with them at all times. At any time, the coach could ask the player to show his coin and read what was written on it. If the hockey player did not have a coin, he was threatened with a large fine.
“Laviolette perfectly understands the worldview of hockey players. He knows how to convey what he means. I think it’s a unique talent to understand hockey, but allow players to act in their own way, if it makes sense. This is the most important thing: he knows how to squeeze the maximum out of the group, but does not retrain the players, ”said the former captain of Carolina Rod Brindamore , who won the Cup under Laviolette.
“Indeed, Lavi has an amazing ability to get the most out of the player. If he says that banging your head against a wall will lead you to success – both personally and from the point of view of the team – then the whole team will start doing it, ”said the aforementioned Aaron Ward.
The coach himself is ready for anything for the sake of the team. Several times he was defeated in a dispute with his hockey players and was forced to appear before the public in an unusual form, but he never escaped responsibility. In October 2018, he went to a press conference wearing something like a bull’s head, although it was not possible to establish exactly which animal mask he chose. Probably, the outfit for the coach was chosen by the hockey players themselves, who began the away tour with two victories, which Laviolett allegedly did not believe in.
A year earlier, Laviolette argued with the defender Roman Yosi , not believing that the team would bring three victories from the Vancouver – Edmonton – Calgary tour. After the victories were won (7: 1, 4: 0 and 2: 0), the entire coaching staff had to put on funny suits for the match against Dallas and work in them throughout the game.
The main thing is to establish contact with Ovechkin
As for the playing style of Lavioletta’s teams, it can be described as the most energetic. The first thing Peter suggested to his hockey players was to speed up the pace. It is no coincidence that six years ago, Nashville’s general manager David Poyle named the main reason for hiring Laviolette as “an aggressive offensive philosophy.” The Predators under this coach scored an average of 2.94 goals per match, playing well in equal squads.
Laviolette does not interfere when defenders connect to the attack, but at the same time he is not an apologist for a purely attacking hockey. Each player is obliged to work out in defense, and he pays even more attention to the return in this component on the part of the attackers than directly to the defenders. At first glance, Washington has two people for whom it will not be so easy to establish a working relationship with Laviolette – these are Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana, who will have to adapt to a straightforward, serious style, which is bad fit in with European improvisations. At the same time, many Europeans in the Predators – Forsberg, Josi, Ekholm, Arvidsson – reached the peak of their careers under Lavioletta, and it is likely that with a successful variation, Kuznetsov’s game will sparkle with new colors.
The main task for Lavioletta will be to establish strong contact with Ovechkin, whose word in the team is worth a lot. If Alexander accepts the concept of a new coach, then the motivational efficiency, attitude and psychological state of the Capitals hockey players will rise to new heights. And then no one will think of a possible departure in the first round as an acceptable option, since a year ago the team had success.
But for fans and journalists, Laviolette is not the most attractive character. He will be Washington’s most taciturn coach since Dale Hunter. You should not expect fiery press conferences from him, but he will defend his players from criticism until the very end.