Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear he was looking for an experienced head coach who could "push some buttons" for the team's next head coach and it appears he has zeroed in on one of the bigger names on the market. In the latest 31 thoughts column from Elliotte Friedman, Friedman writes that the Caps have received permission to talk to Peter Laviolette and that he is "very much a contender."
Laviolette was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Nashville Predators in January so the caps would need Nashville's permission as he is technically under contract.
Laviolette certainly would check the boxes of everything MacLellan said he was looking for from the new head coach. In terms of experience, Laviolette's got it with 18 years of NHL head-coaching experience. He has led three teams to the Stanley Cup Final -- Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina -- and won the Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. The Predators made the playoffs in each year during his tenure, though the team was very much outside a playoff position when he was let go in January.
When it comes to discipline and culture, Laviolette is known as a tough coach which is why a lot of his success tends to come early in his tenure. While those coaches can have a shorter shelf-life, that should not really matter for a team like the Caps who have a narrow championship window anyway. Who cares if the team is tired of Laviolette in four years because by then the window will probably be closed and the focus will be on the future.
But as for the present, Laviolette is a Cup-winning coach who has been successful just about everywhere he has coached and who can introduce the discipline and accountability MacLellan fears may be slipping. With that in mind, it's easy to see why he would be such a strong contender.