Four Questions on Peter Laviolette

Four Questions on Peter Laviolette

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Randy Carlyle is still twisting in the wind as the Maple Leafs‘ head coach despite some damning quotes from the new boss.

 

For now, let’s look into another available head coach candidate, former Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette (fired after his team’s 0-3 start earlier in the season), with Eric T. of Broad Street Hockey.

How would you describe Peter Laviolette’s systems?

Eric T: Peter Laviolette generally seems to prefer an up-tempo, aggressive game. But he’s not dogmatic about it; he mixed in some fairly passive neutral zone trap during his time in Philadephia, especially in his first two years. One thing that I do think was a constant in Philadelphia was that there were always stretch pass options on organized breakouts and the puck-moving defensemen were pretty aggressive about looking for them.

How have Peter Laviolette’s teams traditionally fared in even-strength possession?

ET: Their puck possession numbers have been pretty good, for the most part. His teams in Carolina were in the ~5th to 7th range, and in Philadelphia they were ~10th to 12th until the defense caved in in ’12-13. Looking back at those Philly teams, I do wonder if they shouldn’t have been even better. They had some real high-end talent (Richards, Carter, Giroux, Pronger, Timonen) and very solid pieces around them (JvR, Hartnell, Briere, Carle, Coburn); it’s a lineup that in retrospect seems like it should’ve been better than a ~51% Fenwick close.

Given the Leafs strengths/weaknesses and Peter Laviolette’s history, he seems like like he could maximize what the Leafs have here offensively but might not be the best candidate to help this team figure out defence. Do you agree?

ET: I’d actually be fairly optimistic about what he could do with their defense. Like I mentioned, Peter Laviolette has been really aggressive about having his defensemen look for stretch passes to create quick offense, and I think the Leafs have plenty of defensemen with the puck skill to pull that off — and some forwards with the speed to capitalize.

Peter Laviolette got the Canes and Flyers to the Cup Finals (winning with the Canes) in his first (full) seasons with those teams. What do you think it is about his message that makes this guy so effective when he first arrives (also got NYI into the playoffs)?

ET: I hate to speculate about someone’s motivational skills or message getting through; I think it’s awfully tough for us to know as fans what the coach is saying or how it’s working. But it’s worth noting that the Flyers were 28-24-5 under Peter Laviolette in the regular season that first year, a record that was actually slightly worse than under John Stevens. They had to win a game 82 shootout to make the playoffs, and only then did they get hot. Similarly, his 20-22-6-4 record in his first year in Carolina was nothing special — it wasn’t until the next year that they became a powerhouse. There’s definitely a popular narrative that he’s a great motivator who people are excited to play for initially but eventually the shtick gets old, but without any direct knowledge of his motivation or the players’ reaction to him, I don’t have any great reason to buy into it.