Peter Laviolette was President and General Manager Chris Drury’s first interview regarding the New York Rangers head coaching vacancy, and he was his last. Laviolette was officially introduced as the 37th coach in franchise history on Tuesday morning at their practice facility in Terrytown.
“When I started this process, I wanted to have a detailed and thorough search, and I’m happy to report that search led to Peter Laviolette,” Drury said. “I truly believe his resume speaks for itself and commands respect on many different levels.”
Laviolette’s 752-503-25-150 record(Wins, losses, overtime losses, ties) makes him the eighth-winningest coach in NHL history, first amongst his fellow Americans. He has a 78-76 record in the playoffs, including a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
Yes, the game has changed since then. But Laviolette has changed along with it. Most recently, he took the Philadelphia Flyers to the Finals in 2010 and the Nashville Predators to the Finals in 2017.
"“The game has changed. The staff have gotten bigger. Technology has taken over. You have to adapt, change and stay up to speed with all of that. There’s been a lot of change in the last 25 years in coaching itself.”"
Laviolette, 58, joins a list of esteemed individuals who have both played for and coached the Rangers, including Lester Patrick, Frank Boucher, Lynn Patrick, Neil Colville, Bill Cook, Muzz Patrick, Phil Watson, Alfie Pike, Doug Harvey, Red Sullivan, Emile Francis, Bernie Geoffrion, Larry Popein, Ron Stewart, Fred Shero, and Glen Sather.
He also warned the media that you won’t see him smile much.
"“My wife told me when I get up here; she said to make sure that you smile. I said I’m not a very good smiler. I said I’ll make sure I smile.”"
Then he grinned. The hope is that the genuine smile Laviolette gave the media will return at a Stanley Cup parade shortly.
Laviolette appeared friendly and lighthearted. He joked about his unsuccessful attempt to find one of his old Ranger jerseys on eBay.
Then Drury surprised him with a #39 Rangers jersey, the same number he wore during his only twelve NHL games as a player in the 1988-89 season. Laviolette said all the right things. Will he back it up? That’s for another day.
However, he repeatedly made his goal crystal clear. He wants to bring a Stanley Cup to New York. He wants to finish what he came here to do 35 years ago.
Laviolette emphasized the importance of implementing communication between the front office and the players.
"“I started to make phone calls [to his new players]. There are conversations, and you chat, but you can’t coach them yet. You develop relationships now, and they build. By the end of the month, I hope to reach out to everyone, players, and staff.”"
It was the opposite of what Gallant did, who waited until the first day of training camp before the 2021-22 season to introduce himself. That’s understandable. It defined his relaxed personality. “He lets you go out there and do your own thing,” Barclay Goodrow said at the exit interviews.” Ultimately that was his downfall.
Laviolette also has a short-term style. His yelling wears on you after a while. That’s why it’s a three-year deal. But that’s what this team needs. This window will only be open for about three more years. The players said they needed a motivator. Laviolette is one of the best in that area. It’s now on them to deliver.
Laviolette will tell those players and staff the hard-nosed truth about winning a Stanley Cup.
"“It’s about pressure, puck pursuit, battling, and grinding that makes teams great. It has to be taught now, in the preseason, the entire season – it’s not something you ask to flip a switch once the playoffs start.“My message is let’s go to work. Let’s get working. I think we have good pieces in place. To me, it’s about the work ethic that drives teams. The messaging from me to the players is that it starts in the training camp and then we’ll make the playoff push.”"
Throughout the presser, Laviolette expressed the importance of holding his players accountable throughout the season. Hearing a coach preach communication, consistency, and accountability was refreshing.
The last time Rangers fans were given that as their first impression was Alain Vigneault’s in 2013. David Quinn preached development at his introductory lecture in 2018. Gallant ordered professionalism.
Laviolette will give everyone a shot to prove themselves. It includes providing lottery picks, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere more ice time.
"“I do think these young players need an opportunity to grow.“Not given, but you want to count on them more. Everyone wants to feel that responsibility and value. You want to see them get more minutes, more power-play time. These conversations will take place. Those opportunities will be there for them.”"
However, Gallant said the same thing before he buried them in the bottom six, took them off the power play, and healthily scratched them when at their worst.
But Laviolette’s demeanor, persona, and consistency ring a different tune. He doesn’t mince words. Good or bad. As Chris Drury said, “His resume speaks for itself.”
His resume also has a Stanley Cup on it. He wants another one. He wants it on Broadway. “My staff and I will work tirelessly to bring a Stanley Cup to New York,” Laviolette said. Now, the real work begins. It’s time for that fantasy to become a reality. Actions speak louder than words.