Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/06/14 at 12:02 PM ET
Nashville, Tenn. (May 6, 2014) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has hired 2006 Stanley Cup-winning coach Peter Laviolette as the second head coach in team history and signed him to a multi-year contract. Also joining the coaching staff is Kevin McCarthy, who will serve as an assistant alongside Lane Lambert and Phil Housley.
“Having reached the peak as a Stanley Cup Champion, Peter knows the intensity and urgency it will take to help our team reach its ultimate goal,” Poile said. “He is a great hockey mind who not only has a winning resume, but has done it with an aggressive offensive philosophy while also excelling in helping young players reach their potential. We look forward to Peter instilling his culture in Nashville immediately following his duties coaching the United States at the 2014 World Championship.”
“I love the nucleus of this team, starting on the back end with two of the best players at their positions in defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne, in addition to a solid group of dependable veterans and talented, rising young talent,” Laviolette said. “My challenge will be to impart a system that enables our young forwards to thrive and reach their offensive potential. Being a perennial Stanley Cup contender requires buy-in, passion and commitment from every player on the roster. I can’t wait to get to Nashville and get started on our journey.”
In parts of 12 seasons with the New York Islanders (2001-03), Carolina Hurricanes (2003-09) and Philadelphia Flyers (2009-14), Laviolette has compiled a career coaching record of 389-282-(25)-63 (866 points), and each of the three teams improved exponentially in the first full season after he took the helm: the Islanders finished with 96 points and the eighth-best record in the League in 2001-02 after finishing 30th with 52 points the season prior; the Hurricanes went from 23rd in the NHL with 76 points to fourth with 112 points in 2005-06; and the Flyers improved from 88 points and 18th in the NHL to 106 points and fourth in 2010-11. Laviolette won 52 games in his first full season with Carolina in 2005-06 – earning him runner-up Jack Adams Award honors in the closest vote in award history – recorded back-to-back 47-win seasons with Philadelphia in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and hit the 40-win mark on three other occasions (2001-02, 2006-07 and 2007-08).
Including his Stanley Cup win in 2006 with Carolina, Laviolette has made six postseason appearances, posting a series record of 9-5. He led the Islanders to back-to-back Stanley Cup Playoff appearances in 2002 and 2003, ending a seven-year postseason absence for the franchise, and advanced beyond the opening round three times with the Flyers, including the 2009-10 campaign, when he took over midseason and proceeded to lead the team to Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final.
Laviolette’s offensive-minded philosophy is evidenced by his teams’ goals for rankings through the years – six times in eight full seasons his teams have finished in the Top 10 in the category, with three of those being top-three results. When coaching a team for a full season, Laviolette’s squad has never finished lower than 13th in goals for. That doesn’t include his two midseason takeovers where the Hurricanes improved their goals for average from 1.87 to 2.23 when he moved behind the bench in 2003-04, and when the Flyers finished eighth in goals for in 2009-10.
Multiple young, developing players – who have gone on to become dependable NHL players and in some cases superstars – were cultivated under Laviolette’s watch. Most recently in Philadelphia, Claude Giroux played his first full season under Laviolette in 2009-10, and has become one of the NHL's elite offensive producers, posting 93 points and finishing fourth in Hart Trophy voting in 2011-12; James Van Riemsdyk played his first NHL games under Laviolette in 2009-10, then hit the 21-goal mark as a 21-year-old in his sophomore season in 2010-11; Jakub Voracek improved his point-per-game average from .58 with Columbus to .75 with Philadelphia after a trade in the summer of 2011; Wayne Simmonds doubled his goal total from 14 in 2010-11 with Los Angeles to 28 in his first season with Laviolette's Flyers in 2011-12; and Matt Read posted 24 goals as a rookie in the same season. Former Predator Scott Hartnell also hit career highs in goals (37) and points (67) in 2011-12, being named to his only All-Star Game.
In Carolina, Eric Staal played his first four-plus seasons under Laviolette, notching a career-high 45 goals and 100 points to finish fourth in Hart Trophy voting during the Cup-winning campaign; Justin Williams, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, posted his top two point totals and only two 30-goal seasons under Laviolette in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Current Predator Matt Cullen also posted his two best point totals of his 1,150-game NHL career under Laviolette, notching 49 points in both 2005-06 and 2007-08. Finally with the Islanders in 2001-02, a 24-year-old Mark Parrish hit the 30-goal mark for the only time in his career.
Second in wins among U.S.-born NHL coaches and now one of just nine men employed as an NHL head coach to have won a Stanley Cup, Laviolette is currently serving as head coach of the United States’ entry at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, his third time in the role (2004, bronze medal and 2005). He has also represented his country in four Olympic Games, first as a player in the 1988 Calgary Games and the 1994 Lillehammer Games, then as a head coach at the 2006 Torino Games, and as an assistant at February’s 2014 Sochi Games.
After amassing 268 points (78g-190a) in 594 minor-league games in the American and International hockey leagues (Indianapolis, Colorado, Denver, Flint, Binghamton, Providence and San Diego) from 1986-97, and appearing in 12 games for the New York Rangers in 1988-89, Laviolette began his coaching career with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers in 1997. After posting a 37-24-9 record and reaching the conference finals in his rookie coaching season, he was hired as head coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins, and led the team to an AHL-best 56-16-4-4 record and a Calder Cup in 1998-99, just one season after the team had gone 19-49-7-5 and finished last in the league. Following the 1999-2000 season, the 1999 AHL Coach of the Year was promoted to assistant coach of the parent Boston Bruins, which he held for a single campaign (2000-01) before starting his NHL head coaching career with the Islanders in 2001-02.
A native of Franklin, Mass., and graduate of Westfield State College, Laviolette and his wife, Kristen, have three children – sons Peter and Jack, and daughter Elisabeth.
McCarthy brings more than 25 years of front office and coaching experience to the organization. Prior to five seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2009-14, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native spent 16 seasons in the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes organization from 1992-2009, including its Stanley Cup-winning campaign in 2005-06. After three seasons as an assistant for the Whalers (1992-95), McCarthy served as head coach for the franchise’s AHL affiliates in Springfield (1995-97) and New Haven (1997-99), compiling a 156-123-36 record. He rejoined the parent team for the 1999-2000 season, and spent the next nine years as a Hurricanes assistant. McCarthy’s coaching career started as a player-assistant coach for the AHL’s Hershey Bears (1987-88), before a full-time move behind the bench as an assistant in 1988-89 and head coach in 1989-90. McCarthy also had front office experience as the Flyers Director of Professional Scouting from 1990-92. The former defenseman spent 10 seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Vancouver and Pittsburgh from 1977-87, posting 258 points (67g-191a) in 527 career games. During his time with Vancouver, he served as the Canucks’ team captain and was named a starter in the 1981 NHL All-Star Game.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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