Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette enters his third and final season with the team behind the bench. At least that’s what his contract says. So he enters a lame duck season. Hmmm sounds kind of familiar.
General Manager Brian MacLellan didn’t comment on whether or not they’re negotiating a contract extension. But he did say Laviolette has done a good job so far. He says this despite first round exits in his first two seasons and four total in the last four years.
But the latest first round setback to the Florida Panthers wasn’t Laviolette’s fault by any means. It was a complete team effort and it’s on the players for not being able to finish games when they had the opportunity to do so.
Per Wikipedia, Laviolette’s .273 winning percentage is the worst among Capitals coaches of all time that made it to the postseason. That’s in large part due to that five game elimination at the hands of the Boston Bruins the previous year after the Caps won the first game.
According to an article by Ian Oland of RMNB, where he used Bet Online AG, Laviolette has a +800 odds to be the first coach fired in the NHL this season. He’s the fourth likeliest coach to get canned.
MacLellan said this when he was asked about a Laviolette extension on breakdown day. That was in the wake of the first round exit and his answer was no different to what it is today.
“I think we’re going to keep that between management and the coaching staff. I thought [Laviolette] did a good job. I thought the game plan in the playoffs — we had a good year.”
I don’t think it’s fair to the bench boss that he should be fired. The Caps dealt with A LOT the last two seasons. That included shaky young goaltending, injuries, and of course the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. Plus the Caps are much older now and age has shown up the last two years.
This is interesting that Laviolette enters a lame duck year. We all know how the Barry Trotz era ended with a Stanley Cup when he was in the last year of his contract but tension between coach and general manager throughout the season caused Trotz to walk.
If the best case scenario does come true to the Caps winning a second Cup, I doubt the same thing happens with Laviolette. I think Laviolette gets the job done and if he doesn’t at least they’ll get past that dreaded first round.