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Cup-Chasing Rangers Officially Name Peter Laviolette Head Coach

Grant Halverson. Getty Images.

 

It may have been 17 years ago, but Peter Laviolette is officially the man expected to accomplish something in New York that he's done elsewhere before. Win a Stanley Cup.

Took long enough to finalize, but Drury likey wanted to make sure Sullivan & Keefe weren't gonna be options and I'm convinced Jon Hynes' name was only thrown into the mix to scare the shit out of fans and drum up more excitement over the inevitable Laviolette hiring. Anyone connecting the Blueshirts to an inexperienced yet potentially innovative name like Leach, Carbery, Knoblauch, etc. after Gallant was let go simply doesn't understand this organization. They were never gonna roll the dice on a volatile unknown under the pressure of a "win now" window in the Big Apple. It was always gonna be a safe play. A familiar name. Someone with plenty of experience and reputation.

That doesn't mean it's a bad hire though. A fresh face isn't a requirement to winning but sometimes a new voice is. Despite eclipsing expectations when Gallant took the reins, the Rangers decided that's what was needed to get over the hump and that voice had to be one which commanded more respect. Enter Laviolette & his 752 wins, three Cup Finals and a championship.

Whether it was David Quinn or Gerard Gallant, the Blueshirts top guns never seemed to fully commit to the north-south mantra preached tirelessly by their coaches. Hell, under Quinn I remember Ryan Strome essentially saying publicly "we'll do what we want". While they made improvements under Gallant there was still an evident disconnect between players & their bench boss resulting in a disappointing first round elimination. Without any significant roster turnover on the horizon, Laviolette will be tasked with reprogramming some big-name players set in their ways. A lot of that will be forcing accountability on them. Laviolette isn't afraid to sit anyone. It's popular belief Panarin was one of the most unhappy with Gallant running the ship, but the grass won't be greener under Lavy when he finds himself stapled to the bench.

As for the kids, don't expect Laviolette to be any different than most veteran retreads. He's not here to develop individuals and quite frankly, in today's league they're not really kids anymore. It's Year 6 for Chytil, 5 for Kakko & 4 for Lafreniere. They won't be given all the opportunity in the world simply based on upside. They'll have to earn it and any success they have will moreso be attributed to their own ability to grow & play to their potential than how they're coached or deployed. The salary cap and current roster construction will likely give a couple of them first crack with a clean slate under a new set of eyes but accountability will be paramount. If you're not doing the job, you won't have the job and it won't matter if you're Panarin or Lafreniere. I think that's the biggest thing the Rangers front office is looking for from their 37th head coach.

It's not exciting. Don't love it or hate it. Rather predictable despite how long it took to put pen to paper. While Laviolette has a history of success early on in his tenure with multiple franchises, the Capitals fell flat in a pair of first-round exits with Lavy at the helm before the wheels fell off this past injury-plagued campaign that resulted in his dismissal. Obviously the Rangers expectations are much higher and, in terms of personnel, he'll have a deeper array of weapons to deploy. Anything less than a Cup is a failure though and if this core is capable of hoisting the greatest trophy in sports, which is certainly still an "if", the onus is now on Peter Laviolette to press all the right buttons & get it done.