On the Laviolette’s Christmas tree every year, they hang hand-painted ornaments of each of the homes they’ve been at throughout their journey.
Now, Peter and Kristen Laviolette are at 28 ornaments on the tree.
“It’s a 12-foot tree now,” Peter joked.
Peter, the Capitals’ coach, and his wife, Kristen, have traveled the country through the years in ways that many simply cannot fathom. All three of their children, Peter, Jack and Elisabeth, were born in different states.
Since the turn of the century, Peter has coached the Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers, Predators and, currently, the Capitals. But now, finally, he and his wife are settling into the D.C. area.
“We’re just starting to,” Kristen said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's Al Koken. “Yeah, I mean, we literally just got into town. Both of us being here and with things finally being opened up, we've been able to sprinkle down and be a little bit of a tourist downtown or go and have dinner and enjoy some of the restaurants now that they're open. And now that Peter is able to go out and get out and about in the city. So we're really looking forward to it.”
When Peter was hired by the Capitals in late 2020, his wife was still down in Florida. So he lived with a few assistant coaches on the staff, in more of a “bachelor pad” type of house for the 2020-21 regular season.
Now, Kristen is in the area and for the first time in decades, the Laviolettes are empty-nesters as all of their children are in college. All of them play sports.
“I've been lucky because we've been married 25 years last summer,” Peter said. “And so the coaching job is a tough job and it's a lot of time away from your family. It's a lot of moving and it's a lot of commitment from me. But in order to keep your family together, there's got to be a better half. There has to be a reason why you can make it 25 years.”
And those 25 years for the family began with a bang — in the most literal of terms.
They had 250 people at Kristen’s parents' house for their wedding reception in New England, when a storm hit and lightning struck near the house, which jolted some of the people at the wedding.
Since then, it’s been a series of new gigs for Peter, and thus Kristen, and plenty more moves in the process.
“I've been so lucky that Kristen has been the solid person and the strength of our family to raise three beautiful kids and to be able to move from the amount of places that we've had to move and do the things that we've had to do,” Peter Laviolette said. “Losing and winning, it takes it out of you and you wear it. You take it home with you a lot. And she does a good job of understanding that.”
And for every city they’ve been in, winning or losing, Kristen has been a notable face in the community. Due to COVID-19, that was clearly dampened for the Laviolettes' first season in Washington. But now, her goal is to do what she’s done in each of their prior stops.
“You know, I love the stage that we're given with the job we have,” Kristen Laviolette said. “And so for me to be able to go out into the community and sprinkle myself around and meet the people in our community and all different aspects, I love to be able to be hands-on and make a difference in a day. You know, I'm not changing the world, but you know what, if I can help out and be a part of something and make a difference, it's very fulfilling to me.”
Peter and Kristen have lived in some unique and vastly different cities throughout the years. Now, they’re able to spread out in the D.C. area a little bit. Kristen said she wants to visit the top of the Washington Monument, among other things.
They’ll certainly have the time to do so. And both of them, and Capitals fans, hope they’re able to stay at home No. 28 for a long time.
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for full coverage of Capitals vs. Florida Panthers and stay for Capitals Postgame Live when Al Koken's full interview with Peter and Kristen Laviolette airs.