Laviolette, who most recently served as the head coach of Nashville Predators, has 18 years of NHL head coaching experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville. He has led three teams to the Stanley Cup finals — the Predators in 2017, the Flyers in 2010 and Hurricanes in 2006 — and won the Cup with Carolina.
Laviolette did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
Laviolette seems to fit with what the Capitals need. When Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan described what the organization wanted in its next head coach on the day of Reirden’s firing, the word he emphasized was “experience.” The Capitals needed a veteran coach who could get immediate results from a veteran group.
“We need an experienced coach,” MacLellan said. “We have an experienced group. We’re going to try and find the best guy we can; experience will be a factor. And somebody that can hold people accountable.”
MacLellan also said he believed Washington’s ownership was “open” to spending top dollar on a coach “if it makes sense.”
The organization wanted — and needed — a coach who can push the players, hold them accountable when they aren’t at their best and reset the team’s culture. Laviolette, now with his fifth NHL organization, will have his shot to do just that with an aging core that isn’t getting younger. He will now be entrusted to push a veteran group that includes Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
With the Capitals’ championship window rapidly closing, the team was searching for a coach who could get the most out of the team now, Laviolette’s early successes in his tenure with teams is one of his biggest strengths behind the bench, and initially seem to match up with Washington’s needs.
In his first full year with Carolina, he led the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup, beating the Edmonton Oilers in a seven-game final.
Laviolette was fired by the Predators in January after a disappointing first half of the season. He had been the Predators coach since 2014-15 season and compiled a 248-143-60 record in Nashville, which included a run to the 2017 Stanley Cup finals. He also led the Predators to the Presidents’ Trophy in 2017-18 before the team fired him in January.
The Capitals also interviewed Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant for the job.
Babcock was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in late November and soon after, reports surfaced that accused him of mistreating players and using psychological intimidation as a motivating tactic, concerns that would need to be addressed if he returned to the NHL. Babcock was Detroit’s coach when the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup in 2008 and was the coach of Team Canada when it won gold in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Gallant led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural season, when they lost to the Capitals in 2018. Gallant, who is considered a players’ coach, was fired in January after only 2½ seasons at the helm.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.