The Nashville Predators announced Tuesday afternoon that they have hired Peter Laviolette as their new head coach. Laviolette, who was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers after losing their first three games of the 2013-14 season, replaces Barry Trotz. Trotz was fired earlier this month, after serving as the Predators head coach since the franchise’s first day in Nashville.
Laviolette led the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006, and the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 (losing to the Chicago Blackhawks).
Laviolette’s pedigree had a lasting impression on Predators President of Hockey Operations / GM David Poile, who in a press release announcing the hiring said:
Having reached the peak as a Stanley Cup Champion, Peter knows the intensity and urgency it will take to help our team reach its ultimate goal. He is a great hockey mind who not only has a winning resume, but has done it with an aggressive offensive philosophy while also excelling in helping young players reach their potential. We look forward to Peter instilling his culture in Nashville immediately following his duties coaching the United States at the 2014 World Championship.
Both Laviolette and the Predators were in need of a change after this season. The Flyers were off to a dismal start, and a relaxed training camp left an impression with GM Paul Holmgren that change was needed. After missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Predators also found themselves in a need of a fresh voice in the locker room. Laviolette is a proven winner who can turn things around in Nashville.
With only one head coach throughout the history of the franchise, the Predators were the model for consistency behind the bench. By going with an established veteran like Laviolette, instead of a young, up and coming coach, the Predators have a better shot of continuing that consistency.
Laviolette seemed pleased with the personnel he will now be able to shape and mold:
I love the nucleus of this team, starting on the back end with two of the best players at their positions in defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne , in addition to a solid group of dependable veterans and talented, rising young talent. My challenge will be to impart a system that enables our young forwards to thrive and reach their offensive potential. Being a perennial Stanley Cup contender requires buy-in, passion and commitment from every player on the roster.
The buy-in and passion factor is what Laviolette lost going into the 2013-14 season in Philadelphia. It was obvious from the start of camp and into the first three games that the team’s core was no longer interested in playing for Laviolette. Now, he gets a fresh start with a talented team in Nashville.