Rangers coach drops hilarious quip about facing former team in playoffs

Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect Peter Laviolette to wax poetically about how much this first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals means to him. He’s not about to take the bait and publicly dissect his emotions about coaching the Rangers against the team he coached the previous three seasons.

When asked about guiding his current team in the playoffs against his former one Thursday, Laviolette turned to humor in attempt to end the line of questioning.

“I’ve coached a lot of teams,” Laviolette said with a laugh. “If this is the story, I mean I’ll have a story every round, I hope. I’ve coached a lot of teams.”

Laviolette’s not joking about that. He’s coached six teams in the NHL, including the Capitals, with whom he mutually agreed to part ways at the end of last season. He signed on as Rangers coach shortly thereafter and led them to the Presidents’ Trophy and franchise records in wins (55) and points (114).

The 59-year-old was 115-78-27 from 2020-23 with Washington. However, the Capitals were just 3-8 in 11 postseason games, eliminated in the first round both in 2021 and 2022. They missed the playoffs last season.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the Capitals and their organization,” he said. “The players have obviously done some good things to make the playoffs (this season) and we’ve done some good things to make the playoffs. The game gets decided out on the ice.”

Related: Rangers vs. Capitals schedule, results, TV info for 1st-round playoff series

Peter Laviolette not discussing his Capitals tenure now that he’s Rangers coach

NHL: Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks
Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

In an interesting twist, should the Rangers win their first-round series, they will play one of Laviolette’s former teams again in the second round, either the Carolina Hurricanes or New York Islanders.

Laviolette coached the Hurricanes for five seasons, including in 2005-06 when he helped them win the Stanley Cup. His first head coaching job in the NHL was from 2001-03 with the Islanders.

The Rangers bench boss is the seventh-winningest coach in NHL history. He has 807 wins (807-526-154 and 25 ties) in 1,512 games, which is also seventh most all-time. He is 78-76 in 154 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

On Thursday, there was another topic Laviolette made clear he won’t be discussing in the postseason. Simply, who’s in and who’s out of the lineup.

“I’m not going to talk about any players … I’m not going to talk about iineups or lines or changes. So, none of that,” Laviolette explained. “I don’t see any need or reason to put that information out there.”

Related: Kenny Albert believes Rangers have ‘no holes’ ahead of Stanley Cup Playoffs

So, that will leave everyone to guess who will be, for example, in the Rangers lineup for Game 1 on Sunday at MSG. Injured center Filip Chytil again practiced Thursday but appeared to be the odd-man out, along with forward Jonny Brodzinski. Neither took a regular turn during drills.

That could mean rookie Matt Rempe will draw in Sunday, which wouldn’t be a surprise considering Washington has several heavy hitters, including Rangers nemesis Tom Wilson.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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