Opinion: Laviolette Did Wonders With the Rangers This Season

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The NHL Broadcasters’ Association got it right when it came to picking their three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which, according to the award’s definition, is “presented to the head coach who has contributed the most to his team’s success.

The three finalists, which were announced on Friday, May 3, Rick Tocchet (Vancouver Canucks), Rick Bowness (Winnipeg Jets), and Andrew Brunette (Nashville Predators) all helped their teams to outstanding regular seasons. In their way, each head coach helped their clubs reach new heights this season.

There is another head coach out there who deserves some recognition for what he helped his team accomplish that season. He would be New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette.

The Rangers came into this season looking to move on from their poor performance in last season’s first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers jumped out to a two games to none series lead over the New Jersey Devils before losing to their Hudson River rivals in seven games.

The team got poor play from Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere, and some of their other key players. The team’s head coach, Gerard Gallant, did not make the necessary adjustments to help his club.

As a result, Gallant was fired and Laviolette, a former Ranger player, was hired. In Laviolette, the Rangers had someone who won a Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, took both the Philadelphia Flyers (2010) and Nashville Predators (2017) to the Stanley Cup Final, and someone who can the best out of his players.

Well, it is safe to say that at least in the regular season, Laviolette did everything and more for the Blueshirts. For starters, he led them to the top of the standings.

That is right. The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best team with a record of 55-23-4 for 114 points, setting a new franchise record for both their number of wins and points in a regular season.

Another reason why Laviolette was key to his club’s success this season was because of his relationship with Panarin. Last season, it was known that Panarin and Gallant did not see eye to eye.

That was not the case this season between Panarin and his new head coach. Laviolette was not afraid to double shift Panarin, he helped Panarin become one of the team’s better 200-foot players, and he constantly praised Panarin in the media.

Laviolette put his players in positions where he knew they would have a chance to succeed. The perfect example of this is Lafreniere.

Coming into this season, there was a lot of pressure on Lafreniere to start playing like the number one overall draft pick that he was selected with back in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Laviolette eased this burden on Lafreniere by giving him a chance to play with highly skilled players in Panarin and Vincent Trocheck.

Playing with Panarin and Trocheck, Lafreniere looked like a new player. He finished sixth on the team in scoring with 57 points on 28 goals and 29 assists while also showing a knack for coming through in the clutch as he had five game-winning goals.

Laviolette also helped foster a family-like environment within the club. Team captain Jacob Trouba alluded to this in a conversation that he had with New York hockey writer Arthur Staple of The Athletic back in early November.

“You’ve got to go play the games and play well, that’s the most important thing,” Trouba said. “But there’s a lot that goes into the bonding part and caring about each other and that’s what builds a team. We’ve emphasized that, he’s emphasized that, and that’s been a big difference for us this year.”

Thanks to Laviolette, the Blueshirts have their best chance to win hockey’s Holy Grail since 1994. Whether he completes that goal or not, there is no doubt that Laviolette has done one heckuva job this year on Broadway.

In this week's episode, we have on guest HockeyStatMiner to discuss NYR's Salary cap situation, potential moves and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  2. Many Directions, One Goal
  3. A Heartbreaking End, Offseason Begins
  4. Game 5 Recap : Guest Joe Fortunato
  5. Game 4 Recap : Breakout Breakdown

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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