Rangers Report Cards: Peter Laviolette: B
The Washington Capitals entered this season with a playoff streak as reliable as your morning coffee – eight years in a row. They were on a roll and even had a couple of those seasons under Laviolette’s watch. But guess what? The script didn’t follow the usual plot this time around. Playoffs were the expectation in the Alex Ovechkin era, but it’s like the team RSVP’d “no” to that party with a 35-37-10 record this season.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – injuries. Oh boy, did the Caps have their fair share of medical dramas? They practically had a revolving door to the infirmary with over 400-man games lost. It’s like the injury bug wanted to make D.C. its new home. Key players like John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, and Connor Brown were MIA for significant chunks of time. No wonder their performance felt a bit shaky.
Speaking of wobbles, the Caps ranked fourth on the “We’re Dealing with Injuries” scale, according to ManGamesLost.com. It’s like they were the poster children for the impact of injuries on a team’s fate. Laviolette summed it well to the Athletic: “This year is just a really hard read. It’s hard to evaluate the year because of the things we were dealing with. It was just one of those years. It really was.” I feel like that should be stitched on a pillow.
Now, here’s where the plot thickens. After the season wrapped, Laviolette, the man at the helm, apparently chatted with general manager Brian MacLellan and told him he was packing his bags.
His three-year, nearly $15 million contract was set to expire on June 30th, and both sides seemed content to part ways. Laviolette didn’t seem too broken up about it, stating that he focused on returning the team to the playoffs and achieving success there.
Laviolette realized it was time to move on during heart-to-heart talks with his wife, Kristen, as the Caps stumbled and missed the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. Nothing like an excellent heart-to-heart to get you on the right path.
That said, Laviolette’s Washington teams put on a decent regular season show, going 115-78-27. However, when the spotlight shifted to the playoffs, they tripped over their shoelaces – bowing out twice in the first round. It’s like showing up at the Oscars and leaving after the opening act.
It was a letdown Laviolette didn’t shy away from admitting. And guess what? The Caps missed the playoffs this time, clocking in with the league’s second-worst record from January 1st to the end of the regular season. It’s like they needed a New Year’s resolution redo.
Laviolette is now in New York, and he’s optimistic that his fortunes will improve with the change of scenery, just as the Blueshirts are hopeful that the new coach will bring positive changes for them.