Important takeaways from Peter Laviolette’s introduction as Rangers 37th head coach

Takeaways from Peter Laviolette's introductory press conference with Rangers
New York Rangers

TARRYTOWN — For those that were worried about how Peter Laviolette would look as he was introduced as a head coach for the sixth different team in his career, those concerns certainly subsided quickly Tuesday morning. 

When Laviolette walked up to the podium to answer questions as the 37th head coach in New York Rangers history, a level of calm and fire coursed through the media room at the Rangers practice facility. Here was a head coach who had plenty of success throughout his career, detailing his plan on how to make the Blueshirts a Stanley Cup-winning organization. 

For a franchise that hasn’t won a title in over 30 years, the breath of fresh air could be seen as a lightning rod as opposed to the experiences over the last few seasons. 

It wasn’t the only takeaway from an exciting day in Tarrytown though. And while Laviolette’s fiery personality shined bright throughout, there were plenty of other things to focus on. 

Outlook on the Kids

New York is a rare organization that has plenty of top young talent along with an equal mix of excellent veteran players. Laviolette confirmed as much when he talked about the overall talent of the team. The tricky thing the Rangers have had to deal with though, is mixing those young players and giving them opportunities with some of those veterans to throw a cohesive unit on the ice. 

Their inability to develop the younger players over the years is a big reason why the Rangers are on their third head coach in four seasons. 

Things might certainly be changing under Laviolette though. Speaking about top draft picks like Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, the new head coach acknowledged the fact that while the players will need to earn their time, the opportunities for increased ice time will be available for some of the younger talents on the roster. 

“Those young players need an opportunity to grow…Those conversations will take place…those opportunities will be there for them,” Laviolette said. 

It certainly sounds like it’s going to be a very important year for many of the team’s younger core. 

Next Step in the Process

Laviolette has not filled out the rest of his coaching staff to this point as it’s only been a week since he was hired for the top job. While Jonny Lazarus of Hockey News reported that the team is expected to bring on Michael Peca as an assistant, New York did not confirm the hire during his opening press conference. 

Part of the next step for Laviolette is also meeting with the players and other members of the organization. The Massachusetts native joked that he met with Adam Fox quickly before speaking to reporters but was early in the process of speaking to the rest of the roster. 

Making sure players buy into the type of game he wants his team to play will be an important step during the off-season for Laviolette. 

Adjustments will be made on the ice

One of the major issues for the Rangers over the last two seasons was that there were few adjustments made in-game that ultimately led to the dismissal of their previous head coach. Finding one with the experience to make adjustments and the understanding of when something isn’t working was a focus for the front office. 

That is seemingly going to change with Laviolette at the helm. 

“There has to be a clear-cut plan on what we’re doing… For me, it’s always been a little more of an aggressive approach. Defense is always a priority… For me, it’s about the attack. It’s about pressuring. It’s about puck pursuit,” the veteran coach said. 

New York is a team that should be competing for a Stanley Cup title this season. The only way for them to accomplish that though, is to start focusing on the main principles that other great teams have done early in their offseason workouts. 

“When you watch the playoff games right now…it’s just a reminder that the compete inside the game is what makes teams great,” Laviolette explained. “It has to become habit, part of the DNA of who you are. It has to start in training camp and to be held to a level of accountability. When you have that, and you have the skill, that’s how teams push on and they compete for Stanley Cups.”

He gets it

Arguably the most important thing to take away from Laviolette’s introduction wasn’t about the kids’ improved playing time, or the fact that adjustments will be made throughout games; it was something much simpler. Laviolette understands what it means to be a member of the New York Rangers and how to win a championship with the type of players that the Blueshirts currently possess. 

“This is one of the best franchises in sports and it’s in one of the best cities in the world. I’m appreciative and excited to be here to coach this team,” Laviolette stated.

The fact that Laviolette talked so much about his previous championship days, as well as the talent on the current roster shows that he believes this Rangers roster to end a quarter-century-long drought.

It’ll be up to him and the players though to continue the level of optimism coursing through the halls of the team’s facility, but it’s clear the Rangers understood who they wanted as a head coach and ended up getting one of the most accomplished coaching in league history. 

Today was a good day for the New York Rangers. 

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