However, Laviolette has a blueprint for success. He won a cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and brought both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Laviolette is roughly a third of his first season in Washington and 19th as an NHL coach. And the capitals (10-5-4) still have a long way to go after an up and down start, where they haven’t had more than two wins since the end of January.
But they also have Laviolette, who always managed to find success with Teams early in his tenure. The 56-year-old from Franklin, Massachusetts knows what it takes to win, and for his former players, it starts with the conduct of the coach himself.
“Lavi has had a lot of success in the early years because everyone is interested in this new system, the new mindset and the fighting and the hard playing,” said Scott Hartnell, who played for Laviolette for the Flyers and Predators. “Some coaches are too serious, keep their distance, while Lavi always wants to know who you are and what your wife’s name is, what are your children’s names and all that stuff goes a long way in my eyes.”
Laviolette’s strengths begin with his ability to communicate and motivate. He is described as a dull coach, someone who knows how to figure out how to push players and has a family atmosphere. For Colin Wilson, who played for him in Nashville, Laviolette is the definition of “hard love”.
“Lavi has an intensity to him,” said Brian Boucher, who played for Laviolette in Philadelphia. “He’s got that scowl and a real presence in the locker room, and when he speaks, he has that growing voice and that Boston accent. He gets your attention. “
Hartnell said, “He’s not fiddling with his words. He knows exactly where he is going and what buttons to press in this locker room. He does a great job of having everyone on the same page. “
Laviolette’s ability to take the temperature of the room to get everyone on the same page was vital during his Cup run with Carolina. Laviolette joined the Hurricanes in the 2003-04 season just before the NHL lockout. At first he rubbed the players the wrong way.
“He was dealing with thoroughbreds and he had to learn how to control them instead of taking out his stick and hitting them. … The lockout was the best thing that ever happened to him, ”said Bret Hedican, defender for Carolina’s cup-winning team.
Laviolette’s personality began to show after the lockout when Carolina began to gain trust. He started the season with team loyalty that helped him gain the trust of the Hurricanes leaders. He was dull to players and let them know where they stood. But he also knew how to push them without crossing.
There were days when Carolina players felt like they needed to be picked up after a disappointing loss or an unlucky stretch. Sure enough, Laviolette would walk in and provide the much-needed mood boost through chats, speeches, and videos.
Laviolette could also do the opposite – join the team when the game wasn’t on the same level or the players were acting too confidently.
“Sometimes we were high on our British, and I would say, f —, we have to get our a– passed today, and we have to be put in our place, and he would come in there that day and come down with the hammer, ”said Hedican. “It was almost as if he had his finger on the pulse of our group this year, which I couldn’t believe.”
“For some people who are super cool, they might say, ‘Oh, this stuff is cheesy. ‘But if you put your ego aside a little and come to the kid in you, it’s fun and people gather around that sort of thing,’ said Boucher.
Wilson remembered the first time Laviolette talked about giving prizes. The players assumed he meant gift cards to a nice restaurant. Instead, they were toys – gag gifts.
Hartnell recalled that one of the mysterious prizes was a frying pan Laviolette bought from QVC. Another was a figure that was growing grass, Wilson said.
“It’s hard not to like the guy,” Hartnell said. “… at the end of the day he takes care of you and he takes care of the team, and that’s what it’s about.”
Laviolette has also worked to include family members over the years. Several former players, including Kevyn Adams, general manager of Buffalo Sabers, said Laviolette was the first coach to meet ice families and involve them heavily in team bonding activities.
“That was part of his strategy. You get to know someone’s family, you have so much more buy-in than people, so I think that’s how they did it, “said Adams. “I think he had a good overview of every player.”
Daniel Brière, who reached the cup final with Laviolette in Philadelphia, recalls that the coach also included his own family during his tenure with the Flyers. Laviolette and his wife Kristen have three children – Peter, Jack, and Elisabeth – but they are empty nests in Washington.
“[We would] Come in for a meeting and the lines would be on one side and Elisabeth’s drawing would be on the other, ”Brière said. “I liked it because it not only affects the coach’s side, but also shows that he is also a family man and has a family and a normal life. It made him more human. “
Fisher retired in 2017 before returning to the NHL in February 2018. He said he returned to the Predators mainly because of Laviolette’s influence: “It was mostly Lavi.
“He’s not just a good coach. He’s a good person too and I loved playing for him. And I was surprised that they let him go [in Nashville last year]Actually, ”said Fisher. “I was really surprised, but that’s just the game. It happens no matter how good a coach you are. Yeah, I loved playing for him. “