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.

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Something tells me our players would tune Lavy out rather quickly.  I’ve never really been a big fan of his.

  • Fish Head

    Enough of the retreads. I say we go for Jeff Blashill.

  • maple1967leafs

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan  I never liked him also ,Word here in Winnipeg is the Leafs have decided to stay with RC,Therefore Chevy stayed with Maurice,To me it don’t matter which coach is here unless these players begin to play all out and quit figure skating around we could have Scotty Bowman and still miss the playoffs

  • Burtonboy

    maple1967leafs Bon Scott was a Leaf fan  The only question I have is do we have a full team of lazy bums who don’t have a friggen clue ? Is that even possible?  Surely you would get 1 or 2 out of the bunch that know how to compete and work hard. Fact of the matter is the eye test tells me they are all playing alike for the most part. If the work ethic problem is that systemic then we have little choice but to blow this up completely and start all over

  • Yaknowwhat

    Pass on Lavy…past his due date

  • darthNihilus

    Not a fan of his. I prefer Trotz and I hope the Leafs do too.

  • Jordan29

    Im just going to say this, but people dont be surprised if Carlyle is back next year. I have a feeling he will

  • WendelGilmour

    Burtonboy maple1967leafs Bon Scott was a Leaf fan  
    I wonder why guys who are so aggressive playing for the Marlies are less so after going up to the Leafs.
    I have no clue what goes on in the room, but that’s a flag for me.

  • Burtonboy

    WendelGilmour Burtonboy maple1967leafs Bon Scott was a Leaf fan  Biggest problem in that room is Carlyle . I’m pretty much convinced of that

  • darthNihilus

    Jordan29  Then this team is screwed. I hope Shanahan is not that stupid. If thats the case we can look forward to Kadri/Gardiner traded for some plugs with far less skill. (same for the draft)