Peter Laviolette named head coach of Predators
Won Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006
The Nashville Predators have hired their second head coach in franchise history, with Peter Laviolette tapped Tuesday to replace the fired Barry Trotz.
The team said it was a multi-year contract, but the exact length and terms of the deal were not immediately released.
The Predators parted ways with Trotz in April after he held the job for 15 seasons, dating back to the team's inception in 1998.
Nashville failed to make the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
"I love the nucleus of this team, starting on the back end with two of the best players at their positions in defenceman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne, in addition to a solid group of dependable veterans and talented, rising young talent," Laviolette said in a media release. "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. I can’t wait to get to Nashville and get started on our journey."
Joining Laviolette will be new assistant Kevin McCarthy, as well as Phil Houlsey and Lane Lambert.
Laviolette has won nine of the 14 post-season series he has coached with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. He also won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with Carolina and coached the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010.
"We've taken a big leap in the right direction getting our team back on the path, and that path is toward the playoffs," Predators general manager David Poile said at a news conference.
The Predators reached the Western Conference semifinals in 2011 and 2012 but missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Poile said he's known Laviolette for years through USA Hockey. Also GM of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, Poile named Laviolette one of that team's three coaches. He also interviewed Laviolette for the Predators' job along with a couple others he did not name originally planning to hire his new coach in June.
Openings in Florida, Carolina, Washington and Vancouver prompted Poile to move quicker to avoid losing Laviolette. Poile said he was very comfortable hiring Laviolette.
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.- Predators GM David Poile on new coach Peter Laviolette
"Basically in some form, I was interviewing him all year long," Poile said.
Laviolette was last behind the bench with the Flyers for parts of five seasons, guiding the team to the Stanley Cup final in 2011.
He was fired in October 2013 after the Flyers dropped their first three games of the season.
"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,” Predators general manager David Poile said. "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."
Laviolette has been a head coach over 12 seasons starting with the New York Islanders between 2001 and 2003, Carolina from 2003-09 and Philadelphia from 2009 until October. He has 389 wins and 866 career points and six playoff berths, winning nine series.
He helped the Islanders end a seven-year post-season drought with back-to-back berths in 2002 and 2003, and the Flyers lost the cup to Chicago in six games in 2010.
Laviolette is considered an offensive-minded coach with his teams finishing in the Top 10 in six of his eight full seasons and not lower than 13th in goals scored. That helps fill a major need for the Predators who scored only 216 goals this season when they finished three points out of the final Western Conference playoff berth.
Poile said he wanted a coach with a different style of play, and Laviolette's teams play more up-tempo and are more offensive oriented. That's what Poile wants out of the Predators.
The GM said they've been working to improve their forwards, including trading Martin Erat in March 2013 for Filip Forsberg and David Legwand to Detroit this March for Calle Jarnkrok. Forward also is likely to be the position the Predators draft with the 11th pick overall in June.
Forward Matt Cullen helped Laviolette win the Stanley Cup in Carolina and is looking forward to playing for him again.
"He's a great fit for our team and what we need going forward," Cullen said on a conference call. "And I just think a lot of Peter as a coach. He's a good person, and he just has that real ability to bring out the best in all of his players."
With files from The Associated Press