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Laviolette hired as Capitals coach

Replaces Reirden, won Stanley Cup with Hurricanes in 2006

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Peter Laviolette was hired as coach of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

Laviolette replaces Todd Reirden, who was fired Aug. 23 after the Capitals were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 loss in Game 5 on Aug. 20. It was the second straight season the Capitals lost in the first round after finishing first in the Metropolitan Division.

"I couldn't be happier to be here," Laviolette said. "My family couldn't be happier. I've got so many memories of going into Washington and listening to the fan base and the fans get behind their team and I'm excited to have that on my side now.

"I've got a great opportunity to work with a great team that has great players and that has proven to be successful and a top team in the League now for quite some time. For me, it's a real honor and privilege to be head coach of this hockey team."

After firing Reirden, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he wanted to hire an experienced coach to get more out of a veteran roster that includes left wing Alex Ovechkin, who turns 35 on Thursday; center Nicklas Backstrom, who turns 33 on Nov. 23; right wing T.J. Oshie, who turns 34 on Dec. 23; and defenseman John Carlson, who turns 31 on Jan. 10.

MacLellan said Laviolette is the right coach for that job.

Video: Peter Laviolette joins the crew on NHL Now

"He's a good teacher, he's a good communicator, a good motivator; motivating is one of his strengths," MacLellan said. "I think he holds players accountable and I think he does it in a good way: with integrity. He's very honest. I think his track record with different organizations, he's been challenged a number of times of having teams that have different personalities in the locker room and on the ice and he's been able to adapt to different groups and be successful in the League.

"So I think it's a good match both ways and we're excited about it."

Laviolette has coached 18 seasons in the NHL with the Islanders (2001-2003) Carolina Hurricanes (2003-2008), Philadelphia Flyers (2009-2013) and Nashville Predators (2014-2020), going 637-425-123 with 25 ties and qualifying for the playoffs 11 times. The 55-year-old won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 with Philadelphia, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, and in 2017 with Nashville, a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Laviolette, from Franklin, Massachusetts, is second in NHL wins among United States-born coaches behind John Tortorella (655).

"I think it's a great fit," Laviolette said. "For a coach looking for a next opportunity, I get to get behind the bench of an organization that's willing to do anything to win and be successful: strong ownership, strong management and a great personnel on the bench to be able to go out and play the game in a successful city as well. We're excited about coming to the D.C. area and being part of this community. So for me, there were so many things that checked a lot of boxes that we were looking for [in] our next move and we're just super excited about that."

Laviolette was fired on Jan. 6 in his sixth season with Nashville and replaced by John Hynes after the Predators went 19-15-7 in their first 41 games. Nashville was 248-143-60 in 451 regular-season games under Laviolette and won the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the NHL in 2017-18, when they were 53-18-11 (117 points).

Since Ovechkin entered the NHL in 2005-06, the Capitals have hired one other coach with previous NHL experience: Barry Trotz, Laviolette's predecessor in Nashville, in 2014.

Trotz coached four seasons in Washington and guided the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018, but he resigned following that season when he was unable to agree to a new contract and was hired by the Islanders. Reirden, Trotz's associate/assistant for four seasons, was promoted to replace him and coached the Capitals for the past two.

Laviolette said he plans to begin talking with Washington's remaining assistants, Scott Arniel and Blaine Forsythe, and goaltending coach Scott Murray, in the coming days (assistant Reid Cashman had left to become coach at Dartmouth). Laviolette left open the possibility of Kevin McCarthy, his assistant in Carolina, Philadelphia and Nashville, joining him in Washington.

Laviolette said he intends to talk with each of Washington's returning players, beginning with Ovechkin. The Capitals captain is eighth in NHL history with 706 goals and tied David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins for the NHL lead with 48 goals this season.

"I'm really looking forward to it." Laviolette said. "… In watching [Ovechkin] just going back and watching the playoffs and Washington play, for me, there was a lot of really good things that he did … all things that when you're looking at your team, you want your captain to be the guy to set the example and to lead that way. I thought he was doing that.

"I'm looking forward to the first conversation and certainly looking forward to next year working with him."

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