Caps find right balance with Laviolette as new coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
We shouldn't be here, but it's the right move given the circumstances. The Capitals hired Peter Laviolette as their new head coach to replace Todd Reirden for what will most likely be the final push to win another Stanley Cup during the Alex Ovechkin era.
It's said to be a three-year deal worth $4 million per, and I get it, "they should've kept Barry Trotz" has been and will be the common narrative from fans after this move.
We can't change the past, but we can think of this as a "make-up call" for that mistake. Trotz was the original right decision. This is the acknowledgement of that realization, and the team is getting it right the second time around.
The Capitals wanted Trotz to take a shorter deal for about a million less than he wanted, so he left and took four years at $16 million with the Islanders. He still got a raise (from $1.5 million to $4 million), but not the $5 million he apparently wanted from Washington.
Sports is a business, and that was the perfect example of it. We then had a two-year period in D.C. of treading water with a head coach that wasn't the right fit because two sides were off by one year and one million bucks per season.
Now, it's time for Laviolette to make up for lost time and give the greatest era in Capitals history one last squeeze of juice.
He's the right choice for what they're looking for. A coach that will bring discipline but not be a ruler with a heavy iron fist that essentially throws young players under the bus to make a point, like Mike Babcock. He also won't be on the "players coach" side like Gerard Gallant.
It's okay to "push some buttons," but it's another to jam them all at the same time like Buddy the Elf on an elevator.
Laviolette has the resume to get this Capitals team to pay attention, without the extra baggage that would turn them off. Taking three teams to the Stanley Cup Final, including winning it all back in 2006 in Carolina, stands out. So does not being called “the worst person I have ever met” by a former player, as was said about Babcock.
Discipline is a fine line to walk, and so much of coaching is about balance, which is why I made it clear that Babcock was the wrong choice for this team, and Laviolette was the right one. You have to find that middle ground as a leader. Yes, he too can wear on players with his coaching style at times, but this is what they need, more than what Reirden (or skinny Kevin Malone) brought to the team, but not all the way on the Babcock side of the aisle.
There will be an emphasis on defense, all while Laviolette gets to work with an incredibly deep forward lineup to maximize his offensive schemes that some might question.
No, this won't be perfect, but it's the perfect Plan B for an organization that has a championship window with its current core closing.
We can't change how things went down with Trotz, but success under Laviolette can help fans move on and maybe bring another parade to Washington in the process.