The head coach that took the Nashville Predators to two wins shy of a Stanley Cup is now heading to a franchise that knows very well what it’s like to win it all.
With the recent announcement of Peter Laviolette becoming the next head coach of the Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators fans will have to think once more about if the decision was right to let him go.
The official deal is for three years, so the Capitals are putting some faith in Laviolette to put this team back into the Stanley Cup conversation and keep them there:
Peter Laviolette agrees to 3 year deal to coach the Washington Capitals.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 15, 2020
Expectations for Laviolette with the Caps
If Laviolette fails badly, it will be easier to look back on the midseason decision by the Predators to move on despite a large chunk of the regular season still left to be played. It came as a surprise that they acted so swiftly.
However, the same might be true if Laviolette takes that team over and carries them to another Stanley Cup title. Even if he just keeps the Capitals as a regular at the top of the Eastern Conference it will make you wonder if he was the problem, or was it something else with the Predators?
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But there’s no argument that the team was in a tailspin and there was a disconnect within. Laviolette is also going to the Capitals to make Stanley Cup appearances, and not just making the playoffs.
So the question begs to if the Predators are in a better place now with John Hynes as head coach, or should they have went the interim route the rest of the regular season and entered the coaching search during the offseason?
No matter how much success Laviolette may have with the Capitals, the time had come to move on. I didn’t originally feel that way when the firing happened in early January, but I’ve come around after seeing the team respond with some success to at least make the 24-team “playoffs”.
Who knows what would’ve happened if the 82 regular season games were played out. The Predators were just six points behind the now Western Conference champion Dallas Stars in the standings and had just posted an impressive back-to-back shutout just before the stoppage.
Would Laviolette have been able to ride the ship and get the Predators into the same position that Hynes accomplished? We’ll never know for sure, but I think he could’ve.
If the same result would’ve happened in the Edmonton playoff bubble, then you let Laviolette go anyway and have a more stringent coaching search. One where you could really select the right head coach for this team.
I still think the Predators rushed into the hiring of Hynes. I realize they were trying to salvage their season and wanted a new head coach quickly, but I remain skeptical as to if Hynes was the right choice in such quick fashion.
As it pertains to Laviolette, I wish the guy nothing but success in Washington and I like his chances of keeping the Capitals one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Whether that results in another former Predators coach winning a Cup with the Capitals will be interesting to see unfold.
Enormous pressure on Hynes in 2021
If the Predators stumble along next season then the seat will get hot quickly for Hynes. Fair or not, I don’t see him having a lot of room for error going into the next season or two.
Laviolette strikes me as a head coach that has to bounce around and take over teams who are loaded with veterans who can handle a brash coaching style. He’s not a good fit for every team.
As the Predators look to make a youth movement in 2021 and beyond, Laviolette was probably no longer a good fit in Nashville despite his previous success following Barry Trotz.
I’ll be shocked if the Capitals miss the playoffs under Laviolette’s direction as their roster remains one that is stacked with talent, but I won’t be shocked at all if Hynes fails to get his Predators team to the postseason in his first full year.
It’s not a completely fair comparison as Laviolette has a much better roster to work with, but it still naturally makes you wonder.
There’s no exact date when next season will start, but when Laviolette makes his return to Nashville let’s hope fans are in the building and he gets the standing ovation he deserves for leading this team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and a Presidents’ Trophy in 2018.
Now we have to watch the ex possibly have success with someone else, which we know all too well after watching Trotz. But Trotz is universally loved by the fans, and that’s not exactly the case with Laviolette.