Capitals

May likes Laviolette despite what 'fancy stat people' will say

Capitals

The Capitals made it official on Tuesday and named Peter Laviolette their replacement for Todd Reirden as head coach. Washington needed a well-respected veteran voice behind the bench, and they got one. 

Laviolette has won a Stanley Cup, been to three Cup Finals and has coached in over 1,000 games. His hiring marks a final push toward a second championship with a veteran core led by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. 

Is Laviolette the right fit for this team? NBC Sports Washington's Alan May went on The Sports Junkies Tuesday to explain why he is, despite what some advanced stats folks will say about it. 

"He pushes buttons, he coaches the game with fire, he's a presence behind the bench and he commands instant respect from guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, [TJ] Oshie, [John] Carlson," May said. "He pushes buttons, and I think that's critically important. Those veteran players also deserve to have a veteran coach again and a guy with a winning pedigree.

"The fancy stats people, the laptop people won't like Laviolette, but you know what? He wins hockey games," May said. 

Reirden came up short in the first round two years in a row, and as general manager Brian McLellan said after the season, the team's style of play looked worse over time. With a coach like Laviolette, the hope is he holds his team accountable.

"[Players] want give and take from coaches," he said. "Players also trust and believe in a coach that will go after one of their teammates, even if it's them. The teams that [coaches go after players], the players do it to each other as well so the coach doesn't have to do it as much."

 

But there's a balance. Players don't want their coaches constantly on their behinds to do what he wants. At some point they can start to tune a guy like that out if he doesn't have a different gear. 

That's been a prime concern for a guy like Laviolette, but as someone who's been in his fair share of locker rooms, May said hard-nosed coaches aren't as bad as they seem on the outside. 

"All these guys know how to speak to the players, it's not just a one-way thing," he said. "Everyone thinks that with a direct coach, it's all negative all the time. But really they communicate and they let the players know exactly what they want them to do and they'll confront them when they don't do it."