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Laviolette eager for chance to coach in NHL again

Focused on 'what I found has worked for me' after being fired by Predators on Jan. 6

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Peter Laviolette said he plans on coaching again in the NHL and is trying to make the most of the season pause due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Laviolette was fired by the Nashville Predators on Jan. 6.

"Right now, I think I'm just focused on going back to what I found has worked for me as a coach and go back to that," he said Friday. "I don't have a team, I don't have any players, but what I can focus on is what happens when I can go to a team and I can start to get involved with the players and the identity of the team and building that team, building the organization."

Laviolette was in his sixth season with the Predators, who were 19-15-7 when he was fired. Nashville reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his first five seasons, including a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

In 18 NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Predators, Laviolette has a coaching record of 637-425-123 with 25 ties in 1,210 games. Born in Norwood, Massachusetts, the 55-year-old ranks second to John Tortorella (655) in wins by a United States-born coach and is 16th in NHL history. He was coach of the Hurricanes when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006 and of the Flyers when they advanced to the Cup Final in 2010.

He is one of four coaches in NHL history to reach the Cup Final with at least three teams, along with Dick Irvin (Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens), Scotty Bowman (St. Louis Blues, Canadiens, Penguins, Detroit Red Wings) and Mike Keenan (Flyers, Blackhawks, New York Rangers).

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Laviolette has spent his time away from the NHL at home in his suburban Nashville home. His plan after being fired was to follow his children's sports. His daughter, Elisabeth, is a senior at Brentwood High School and captain of the softball team. He also has two sons who play club hockey: Peter, a 22-year-old forward at Plymouth State in New Hampshire, and Jack, a 20-year-old forward at Florida Gulf Coast University.

"I had coached my sixth year in a row, lot of games, lot of time spent away from the family," he said. "There's a lot of things you miss out on. I remember my boy's graduation from high school at Proctor Academy (Andover, New Hampshire) was the day before Game 1 of the (2017) Stanley Cup Final, and I wasn't there. There's a lot of things you miss out on. I've been able to catch some of the things, the way they put video ... you're able to see a lot of things, but it's not like having your parents there, being there for your kids."

Laviolette was hired to coach the United States at the 2020 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland, which was scheduled for May 8-24 before being canceled March 21 because of the coronavirus.

"The World Championship put me back in that frame of mind where you start doing some research on players, watch them play," he said. "We (Laviolette and U.S. general manager Chris Drury) were getting to the point where we were going to get into numbers on players, what we were going to build."

Although he doesn't have a team to build now, Laviolette is doing his best to stay up to date on as many players and teams as he can and evaluate his coaching style.

"I think sometimes in coaching when you're watching, always watching and always learning, sometimes you can forget what it is that you brought to the table in the beginning," he said. "What's important to you? For me, what I've been doing right now is I've been going back and getting what's important to me as a coach, systemically, identity, team building, player personnel, and thinking about that and wherever that may take me.

"Right now, it's just a plan. I think you're constantly learning about the game; there's been so many changes in the way the game's played. ... In the same sense, I don't want to get off of what I know works for me. That may not work for somebody else, but I know it works for me, so I want to make sure that next time I'm ready to go in looking for that."

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