After a wildly successful first season with the Predators – which saw him named as a head coach at the 2015 All-Star Game, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award and lead the team to their third-best record in franchise history – Peter Laviolette enters his second season as Head Coach of the Nashville Predators in 2015-16. Known for his aggressive offensive philosophy and having reached every team’s ultimate goal after winning the 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, Laviolette was named the second head coach in Nashville Predators history on May 6, 2014.
In season No. 1 in the Music City, Laviolette coached the Preds to a 47-25-10 record (104 points) – nine more wins and 16 more points than the team finished with a season earlier – to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He implemented an offensive strategy in Nashville that increased the team’s goals per game to 2.76 in 2014-15, up from 2.61 in 2013-14, and 31.9 shots per game, third in the NHL. The 2014-15 season with highlighted by a scorching start which saw the Preds reach 10, 20, 30 and 40 wins quicker than any other point in team history, and top the Western Conference standings in each of the season’s five full months (November-March). At 2015 All-Star Weekend in Columbus, Laviolette and his staff manned the Team Toews bench after the Predators held the League’s highest point percentage at the season’s midpoint (.725, 27-9-4 record). It was his second career NHL All-Star appearance, having shared coaching duties at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh. His efforts also earned him a spot as one of three finalists for the 2015 Jack Adams Award, the second time in his career he has been named a finalist.
Upon coming to Nashville, Laviolette immediately instilled the intensity and urgency necessary to help veteran players thrive and young players reach their potential. Players like Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones emerged as rising stars in their first season of the Laviolette regime, established NHLers like Colin Wilson set career highs in goals and points, while veterans like Mike Ribeiro experienced a career renaissance.
After winning his first two games as head coach of the Preds (career wins 390 and 391), Laviolette passed Hall of Famer Fred Shero for 32nd on the all-time NHL wins as head coach list, and on Nov. 15, 2014 vs. Winnipeg, won his 400th career game.
Prior to joining the Predators, Laviolette compiled a career coaching record of 389-282-(25)-63 (866 points) in parts of 12 seasons with the New York Islanders (2001-03), Carolina Hurricanes (2003-09) and Philadelphia Flyers (2009-14). Like the Preds in 2014-15, each of his previous three teams improved exponentially in the first full season after he took the helm: the Islanders finished with 96 points and the eighth-best record in the League in 2001-02 after finishing 30th with 52 points the season prior; the Hurricanes went from 23rd in the NHL with 76 points to fourth with 112 points in 2005-06; and the Flyers improved from 88 points and 18th in the NHL to 106 points and fourth in 2010-11. Laviolette won 52 games in his first full season with Carolina in 2005-06 – earning him runner-up Jack Adams Award honors in the closest vote in award history – in addition to recording back-to-back 47-win seasons with Philadelphia in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and hitting the 40-win mark on three other occasions (2001-02, 2006-07 and 2007-08).
Including his Stanley Cup win in 2006 with Carolina, Laviolette has made seven postseason appearances – two with the Islanders in 2002 and 2003 to end a seven-year postseason absence for the franchise; three with the Flyers – all of which saw the team advance beyond the opening round, including the 2009-10 campaign, when he took over midseason and led the team to Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final; and in 2015 with the Predators.
Laviolette’s offensive-minded philosophy is evidenced by his teams finishing in the Top 10 in goals six times in nine full NHL seasons, with three of those being top-three results. When coaching a team for a full season, Laviolette’s squad has never finished lower than 14th in goals for. That doesn’t include his two midseason takeovers where the Hurricanes improved their goals average from 1.87 to 2.23 when he moved behind the bench in 2003-04, and when the Flyers finished eighth in offensive output in 2009-10.
His work with Nashville’s young core continues a long track record of developing talent at the NHL level – in Philadelphia, Claude Giroux played his first full season under Laviolette in 2009-10, and has become one of the NHL's elite offensive producers, posting 93 points and finishing fourth in Hart Trophy voting in 2011-12; James Van Riemsdyk played his first NHL games under Laviolette in 2009-10, then hit the 21-goal mark as a 21-year-old in his sophomore season a year later; Jakub Voracek improved his point-per-game average from .58 with Columbus to .75 with Laviolette’s Flyers teams after a trade in the summer of 2011; Wayne Simmonds doubled his goal total from 14 in 2010-11 with Los Angeles to 28 in his first season with Philadelphia in 2011-12; and Matt Read posted 24 goals as a rookie in the same season. Former Predator Scott Hartnell also hit career highs in goals (37) and points (67) in 2011-12, being named to his only All-Star Game.
In Carolina, Eric Staal played his first four-plus seasons under Laviolette, notching a career-high 45 goals and 100 points to finish fourth in Hart Trophy voting during the Cup-winning campaign; Justin Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy recipient as playoff MVP, posted his top-two point totals and only two 30-goal seasons under Laviolette in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Finally with the Islanders in 2001-02, a 24-year-old Mark Parrish hit the 30-goal mark for the only time in his career.
Second in wins among U.S.-born NHL coaches and one of just eight men employed as an NHL head coach at the start of the 2015-16 campaign to have won a Stanley Cup, Laviolette has served as head coach for the United States at three World Championships: in 2004 when the nation earned its first medal in eight years, a bronze, in Prague, Czech Republic; the following spring at the 2005 Championship in Innsbruck and Vienna, Austria; and most recently in 2014 in Minsk, Belarus.
He has also represented his country in four Olympic Games, first as a player in the 1988 Calgary Games and the 1994 Lillehammer Games, then as a head coach at the 2006 Torino Games, and as an assistant at the 2014 Sochi Games.
A native of Franklin, Mass., Laviolette began his coaching career with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers in 1997-98, coaching them to a 37-24-9 record and a spot in the Northern Conference Final. He was hired as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins following his rookie season in West Virginia, and proceeded to lead the Bruins to an AHL-best 56-16-4-4 record during the 1998-99 season and the 1999 Calder Cup title. Given Providence’s 19-49-7-5 record and last-place finish in the AHL the season prior to Laviolette’s takeover, his efforts earned him the 1999 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year. He spent one more season in Providence, with the team advancing to the 2000 Eastern Conference Final, before being promoted to an assistant coach under Pat Burns and later Mike Keenan with the parent Boston Bruins, which he assumed for a single campaign (2000-01) until his hiring as 10th coach in New York Islanders history on May 23, 2001.
The former defenseman began his coaching career after 11 seasons playing professionally in the National, International and American Hockey Leagues, and internationally for the U.S. National Team, from 1986-97. He amassed 268 points (78g-190a) in 594 minor-league games in the IHL (Indianapolis, Colorado, Denver, Flint and San Diego) and AHL (Binghamton and Providence) from 1986-97, while appearing in 12 games for the New York Rangers in 1988-89. Laviolette also spent the majority of the 1987-88 and 1993-94 seasons with Team USA preparing for the Olympics, recording a pair of assists in six games at the 1988 Games, then wearing the "C" and scoring one goal in eight games at the 1994 Games.
The Westfield State (Mass.) University graduate finished his collegiate career ranked 14th on the school’s all-time points list (43g-44a-87pts) and was named its alumnus of the year in 1988 and inducted into its sports hall of fame in 2002. A three-year captain, Laviolette led the Owls in scoring and was an MASCAC all-conference defenseman his senior season.
Laviolette and his wife, Kristen, have three children – sons Peter and Jack, and daughter Elisabeth.