The New York Rangers have finally made a decision in regards to their head coaching vacancy and they have chosen one of the more experienced minds in modern hockey.
With Peter Laviolette becoming the 37th head coach in franchise history, he brings over 20 years and 750 wins to a franchise trying desperately to end a 29-year championship drought. A championship-winning coach in 2006, Laviolette brings more of a fiery personality than his predecessor and is expected to win right away with a team full of top talent.
But the reasons why Laviolette is a perfect fit for the 2023 Rangers go far beyond what he’s done in the Metro division in his career.
Bruce Cassidy Model
We’re just under 24 hours from the Vegas Golden Knights completing one of the more dominant Stanley Cup title runs in NHL history. Vegas accumulated 111 points during the regular season and won each playoff series by the sixth game. Their five-game dismantling of the Florida Panthers in the cup final is a reminder of why teams need to be able to have both physicality and skill in their game.
Interestingly of note, Bruce Cassidy, Golden Knight’s head coach, was in his first year with the team when Vegas hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup Tuesday night. The model of bringing in a veteran coach who has coached in several playoff series is something the Rangers clearly want to repeat.
Can Laviolette match what Cassidy was able to accomplish in Vegas? Only time will tell, but having an experienced coach is something the Blueshirts absolutely valued when bringing in a guy who has been to the Cup Final with three separate teams.
Wake-up from a lifeless performance in playoffs
To put it lightly, the Rangers’ performance during their first-round playoff exit to the New Jersey Devils this year was extremely alarming. Mental mistakes were compounded by poor effort plays. While the team had seemingly turned on Gerard Gallant, it was clear they needed a new voice in the locker room.
While Gallant was considered a player’s coach, Laviolette has the perfect blend of getting the most out of his players by being tough on them. The 58-year-old will be in charge of making sure the roster full of talented players plays up to their skill set while also doing the things that winning hockey teams do.
It’ll solely be up to the players to be able to accept new teaching, and be prepared to start the season out hot to show their abysmal performance in the 2023 playoffs was more of an aberration than who they are.
Experience in the Metro division
The Metropolitan Division is one of the toughest divisions in hockey. The fact that Laviolette has coached now five teams from that division should tell you all that you need to know in regard to his experience there. He’s seen all the top players, he’s learned how to defend them, and more importantly, he has seen what it takes to win through the playoffs.
In short Laviolette’s experience was the chief reason why he was named head coach of the Rangers. If he can be as close to as successful as he was with the Flyers and Hurricanes, New York fans and the front office should be very pleased.