After the Minnesota Wild parted ways with Bruce Boudreau last week, the team immediately began its search of its next long-term option at the helm. One of those possible candidates is former Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers and Predators coach Peter Laviolette.
As one of only four coaches in the history of the NHL to lead three different teams to the Stanley Cup Final, Laviolette would undoubtedly bring the experience of getting to the biggest stage along with him, which is so desperately needed in Minnesota. The Wild are currently on the outside looking in, with only a 39 percent chance of making it to the postseason, according to MoneyPuck.
Finding a coach who can create a culture of consistency for Minnesota’s premier hockey team is of utmost importance. Like our fellow writer Eric Behr said in a recent article, a lack of playoff success is partially what doomed the Boudreau era, and bringing in a coach like Laviolette with a history of playoff success could be a step forward.
However, there have been the highest of highs and lowest of lows for Laviolette. Yes, he has made it to the top, but on the other hand, has also either missed the playoffs or underperformed in opportune times in the postseason. Coaching for four different franchises, which will eventually become five, is a lot of teams. But could Minnesota finally be the crowning achievement of consistent success for his career?
Out of his 18 total seasons as a head coach, 11 of those campaigns saw trips to the postseason. He holds an overall record of 637-425-148 in his career as an NHL head coach. Laviolette was fired by the Nashville Predators — a team he led to the Stanley Cup Final three seasons ago — on January 6, after the Preds were underperforming to that point in the season. With only 45 points at that time, it was surely a subpar start for the team from the Music City.
Nashville was ranked 29th in the league on the penalty kill at the time of his firing, which is concerning due to the fact that the Wild are also a team struggling in that aspect of the game. They currently sit next to last in the NHL (only above those Nashville Predators) converting at only 74.9 percent.
Laviolette is no stranger to coaching his teams to extreme highs, though. Take for example his 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes team, which won the Stanley Cup. They were middle of the road in goals against, but were a lightning rod on the offensive end and finished third in the league in goals scored.
If Laviolette can carve out a niche for his players, then perhaps the Wild wouldn’t be as far away from returning to the postseason as many think.
It’s understand to be skeptical. Yes, he’s been with four teams already, and perhaps he will fizzle out after a few years if hired. But if there’s one thing Laviolette excels at, it’s holding his players accountable.
I’m ready to run through a wall after seeing that clip, and any player who had an ember of a competitive fire inside of themselves would feel the exact same way.
However, with a coach like Laviolette who isn’t afraid to speak his mind to his players (obviously), it brings into question whether the players on the current roster could handle being pushed that hard on a constant basis? Could players take their medicine and take a team-first approach if their ice time was cut short due to poor play? Would there be a sense of accountability to improve the play, or would there be backlash towards the coach?
These are all things to consider. But in the end, Laviolette does not accept mediocrity, and the Wild have been synonymous with that term for far too long. If he were hired as Minnesota’s head honcho in the State of Hockey, expect a culture change for the home team. But would it be a culture that could be sustained for many years to come?