Honeymoon periods never last very long in sports, and Peter Laviolette‘s seat has gradually been heating up for the Nashville Predators.
No one is saying it’s fair, but accomplishments are sometimes quickly forgotten in the world of sports. This is especially true for head coaches. Fans usually have very little patience, and forget the good times quickly. As it pertains to Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette, he has to turn the ship back around in the right direction.
Laviolette came into the Nashville Predators organization and enjoyed great success right out of the gate. He’s one of just two head coaches in the franchise’s 21-year existence. Pretty remarkable. Some would think that taking a franchise to its first Stanley Cup Final would grant him several years of safety from scrutiny. That’s not the case in professional sports as we’re in the “what have you done for me lately” business.
The fact is a talent rich roster that the Predators have had is going in the wrong direction. A first-round playoff exit in six game to the Dallas Stars is the latest shortcoming. The year before that they narrowly squeaked out of the first round by defeating the Colorado Avalanche, but it wasn’t what I would call pretty. They lost in the next round. So how long of a leash does Laviolette have entering this season before things get sour really quick?
How patient should we be?
I’ll be the first to say that the Nashville Predators have been extremely fortunate to have two outstanding head coaches in Laviolette and Barry Trotz in their franchise’s history. Coaching has never really been a problem with this organization. Trotz always milked every ounce of talent he had with those early teams. Can we say the same about Laviolette in the last two seasons
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I’m not suggesting that Laviolette is in danger of getting fired right as we speak. What I am saying is the Predators can’t stumble badly out of the gate or things will get hairy. There aren’t any excuses for this team to keep going in reverse.
Furthermore, the window is gradually closing on this team’s Stanley Cup chances. A lot of players are currently approaching the end of their contract deals, including Craig Smith, Mikael Grandlund, Austin Watson and Roman Josi. You can’t keep them all, and that will mean searching for new players to work into a new system. That takes time and risks.
Every team is trying to hold off the rebuilding process as long as they can. The Predators have avoided that since 2012 to 2014 when they missed the postseason for consecutive seasons. If Laviolette fails to get his team out of the first round, or dare I say miss the playoffs altogether, then we could be looking at a search for the franchise’s third head coach in its history.
That’s the bar Laviolette has to pass for me to remain patient with the process and keep him at the helm. Get past the first round and see who the Predators draw in the second round. I’ll still be somewhat disappointed with a second-round exit, but I’ll be willing to stick it out with Laviolette and at least chalk it up as an improvement from this past season. But going in reverse for a third-straight season despite a talent-rich roster will be disastrous and leave me with no excuses to stay with the same head coach.