Well, it’s official. The delay is no more in the announcement of the next New York Rangers bench boss. It will be Peter Laviolette. While there is a very vocal segment of the fanbase that wanted to try something new, Laviolette is one of the best coaches in NHL history if you believe the numbers. He’s found short-term success wherever he’s gone but has struggled to find that one place where he could build a dynasty.
Laviolette has 752 wins in his career. That ranks him behind only Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville, Barry Trotz, Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff, Paul Maurice, and Al Arbour in NHL history. He’s only 30 wins behind Al Arbour and is likely to pass him with the New York Rangers. This means by default, he is the winningest head coach the New York Rangers have ever employed. Some people don’t like it, but there is a lot to be optimistic about.
Laviolette has a Stanley Cup ring in the salary cap era as the head coach of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. While a lot of fans are unhappy, someone with the experience of winning those four games in the finals to capture the holy grail of the hockey world is an achievement in itself. If this is something he can replicate in New York, he will be immortalized by this fanbase. Winning solves all problems.
This isn’t the only thing that Laviolette has achieved in his career. He was the boss of the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. If you didn’t follow hockey or cannot remember what happened, that Flyers team became the third team in NHL history to reverse sweep a team. That is to win 4 straight games when facing elimination each night. While the Kings would do it a few years later, Laviolette remains one of four to ever do it.
A President’s Trophy with the Nashville Predators is another strong achievement in his career. While it is not something you set out at the beginning of the season with the hopes of winning, it’s not something to take lightly. He also took that Predators team to the Stanley Cup final the year prior showing that recently Laviolette found team success. It’s not a great measurement, but it’s a good sign.
People seem to have soured on the idea of Laviolette after a poor showing during his time with the old and injured Washington Capitals, but he kept that team fighting for a playoff spot without their best defenseman, two of their best forwards, and a carousel of spare parts performing to keep the Caps in the hunt. He knows how to get the most out of the players on his roster, and that is another key thing the Rangers need.
Is this a great fit long term? I doubt it. However, Laviolette is a very good coach. His defensive systems are exactly what the Rangers need. He’ll get the team to perform well and get them to solidify their defensive weaknesses. While this is not the only change that is needed, defensive structure proved effective against the Devils who eliminated the Rangers in round one.