Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as new head coach

Peter Laviolette will be the next head coach of the Capitals, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a three-year deal that will come in at just under $14 million total.

“Peter is a successful NHL head coach who has won a Stanley Cup and brings a wealth of experience to our team,” said GM Brian MacLellan. “We feel he is a great communicator who will motivate our players to play with passion, structure and discipline, while helping our young players reach their potential. In addition, he is a high-character individual who is highly respected for his coaching pedigree, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team to compete for the Stanley Cup.”

Todd Reirden, who Laviolette is replacing, was fired last month after two seasons and has since joined the Penguins as an assistant.

In his career, Laviolette has a 637 wins in 1,210 NHL games coached with four different franchises. He won a Stanley Cup in three trips to the Cup Final.

Laviolette was fired by the Predators in January after five and a half seasons in Nashville. There he led them to the postseason five times, which included a trip to the 2017 Cup Final. He was set to run the bench of the U.S. entry into the 2020 IIHF World Championship, but the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the tournament to be canceled.

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This is only the second coach who Alex Ovechkin will play for who isn’t in their first NHL gig. Another former Predators coach, Barry Trotz, was the only non-first timer the the Russian superstar has played under. With an aging Capitals’ core, the Cup window remains open. This was not a time to gamble on another rookie.

Gerald Gallant and Mike Babcock were reportedly also in the running.

“We have an experienced group,” MacLellan said after Reirden’s firing. “We need someone to come in and push some buttons on some players — some good players. I think one thing that happened for us in the bubble is our structure didn’t seem to be there. We couldn’t find team structure. I know individuals were working hard individually, but as a team, a team structure, resulted or was a big cause of our performance in Toronto. We’re going to need someone that can come in and establish that as a big part of our identity.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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