Replacing the only coach a franchise has ever known is no easy feat. Yet that was exactly the task of Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile. After dismissing longtime coach Barry Trotz last month; the Predators announced his replacement on Tuesday.
Next season, the man behind the bench for the Predators will be veteran head coach Peter Laviolette. Joining him will be new assistant Kevin McCarthy and holdovers Phil Housley and Lane Lambert.
"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," said Poile. "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."
Laviolette has 12 years of head coaching experience, guiding the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2006. Most recently he served as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, who fired him three games into last season. Laviolette also coached the New York Islanders; and his 389 wins place him second all-time in victories by U.S.-born coaches.
“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,” said Laviolette. “My challenge will be to impart a system that enables our young forwards to thrive and reach their offensive potential. I can’t wait to get to Nashville and get started on our journey.”
Laviolette and Poile are already familiar with one another thanks to their ties to USA Hockey. Poile was the general manager of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team; while Laviolette was in Sochi as an assistant coach for the Americans. Laviolette is currently serving as the head coach for Team USA, who will begin play in the 2014 World Championships on Friday against host Belarus.