Capitals

Caps’ GM non-committal as Laviolette enters final year of contract

Capitals

Given the way the Washington Capitals’ season ended with a fourth consecutive first-round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, questions were inevitable as the players and coaches broke for the offseason Sunday.

One of those involves the contract status of Washington coach Peter Laviolette, who enters the final year of an initial three-year contract signed before the 2020-21 season. General manager Brian MacLellan noted a reporter's questions about Laviolette’s contract status but said any talks about a potential extension will remain out of the public eye for now.

“I think we’re going to keep that between management and the coaching staff,” MacLellan said. “I thought [Laviolette] did a good job. I thought the game plan in the playoffs -- we had a good year.”

For the fourth consecutive time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 (under then-head coach Barry Trotz), Washington failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

The Capitals dealt with a litany of injuries throughout the regular season, as everyone from T.J. Oshie to Nicklas Backstrom to Anthony Mantha, among others, were sidelined for long stretches. Even in the playoffs, Tom Wilson was limited to less than two minutes of action before suffering a crucial left knee injury.

 

“He managed a difficult situation with the amount of injuries we had to our forwards,” MacLellan said of Laviolette. “He got us to the point of the playoffs, a 100-point season. The game plan I think was good in the playoffs. We executed it. We did well. We had moments where we didn’t execute it, and it came back to hurt us.”

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Laviolette’s numbers in Washington can’t be disputed. He just completed his 20th season in charge of an NHL team with the Capitals being his fifth. Laviolette has coached the Caps to a .641 points percentage over his two years in charge, the highest of any team he’s coached.

However, in stark contrast, Washington has the lowest playoff win-loss percentage of any of Laviolette’s five teams by a sizeable margin, at just .273. Losing in six games to Florida last week blemished an otherwise encouraging season for the Capitals, who managed to fight through the regular season despite those pesky injuries and subpar goalie play.

Laviolette won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and took the Philadelphia Flyers (2010) and the Nashville Predators (2017) to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. 

One reporter asked Laviolette if the immediate offseason plans include taking some time off then meeting with MacLellan to discuss next season.

“That's typically what happens. [Saturday] we came in…coaches came in and just talked about different things from systems to personnel to the coaches themselves and the roles. And yeah, you just kind of check back in on everything,” Laviolette said. “And then from there it'll continue on with meetings with management.”

Next season is a critical year for dozens of members of the organization. A dwindling window for the team’s aging core and the final season of Laviolette’s three-year deal, pending an extension, will make for an interesting summer for a team that’s eager to make another run deep into the postseason.