When the Nashville Predators missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2013-14, General Manager David Poile decided it was time for a change. Poile wanted someone who would contribute playoff experience, quality leadership and offensive improvement. His desire for these qualities was met with one candidate in particular – Peter Laviolette.
The Preds officially announced the hiring of Laviolette, who is currently coaching the United States at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, on Tuesday.
“Peter has a system that he plays that he has had success with,” Poile said. “It’s more up-tempo, more offense-oriented, and this is something that we need and want to incorporate into our game.”
Laviolette’s system is the reason he has seen such tremendous success, including a Stanley Cup in 2006 and another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, a quality which Poile was extremely keen on acquiring.
“My goal, or my hope, was to get someone who had won a Stanley Cup,” Poile said. “Peter is one of only nine [current] coaches to have won a Stanley Cup. I think it is very important for a young franchise to bring that type of accomplishment to the organization.”
Visions of a Stanley Cup victory is part of the reason the Predators brought in veteran forward Matt Cullen prior to the 2013-14 season. Cullen, who won the Cup playing for Laviolette with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, expressed his optimism to once again work with his former head coach.
“He’s an easy guy to follow because, as far as a player, you’re looking for a leader,” Cullen said. “He is an up-tempo leader in the room, a good speaker, and good motivator. It’s fun to play for a guy like that, and he really does bring that fire to the game every day. It’s fun to be a part of.”
Aside from his motivational skills, Laviolette also knows how to make players succeed. He helped develop young talents, such as Eric Staal and Claude Giroux, into some of the League’s top players. Cullen even credits his development as a player to Laviolette.
“Lavy is so good at putting guys in a position to succeed, and really helping you to find what you do best,” Cullen said. “For me, I was still trying to find my way in the League and he was really good as far as helping me find my role and what I do to be successful. He reminded me constantly of what I needed to do, and put the trust and confidence in me to go do it.”
Laviolette’s system of finding and using a player’s offensive talent was another part of Poile’s decision to hire him.
“Peter recognized, purely on statistics, that we had a number of forwards who had down years this year,” Poile said. “One of the things that you have to believe is going to happen when you make a coaching change is the second chance for a number of players to get back to where they were or improve.”
Nashville’s offensive unit has the potential to be dangerous, a fact that was proven when the team went 9-1-2 in the last 12 games of the 2013-14 season, scoring 4.25 goals per game in those games. Combine that offensive potential with Laviolette’s magic touch for player development and the future looks bright in Nashville.