After An “Underachieved” Season, Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Says New Head Coach Peter Laviolette Will Provide Motivation & Accountability For the Team

Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan spoke to Capitals senior writer Mike Vogel on Tuesday and discussed the new hiring of head coach Peter Laviolette, the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft, and Free Agency.

After firing head coach Todd Reirden on August 23, MacLellan told the media that “we need an experienced coach, [one who will] press buttons on some players”, adding that the team is “going to find the best” man for the job. Laviolette was their guy.

“He checks a lot of boxes for us,” MacLellan said about the new head coach who was hired on Tuesday. He praised Laviolette’s 18 years of NHL coaching experience, “track record of accomplishments”, and his ability to motivate players and hold them accountable. MacLellan also believes the team is a “good match” for Laviolette as a head coach.

In MacLellan’s mind, the Capitals were “underachieved” this past season. The organization determined the type of the coach they needed, identified candidates that “satisfied those requirements”, and interviewed them. The Capitals GM said they “tried to do as much homework as they could” on all three candidates. Laviolette was chosen in the end.

MacLellan knew what the internal issues were. “Our mission was to find a guy [who] could correct things that we thought were happy with our team,” he said. They “came up with Peter again.” MacLellan added, “We have a good group of veteran players [who] need to be pushed a little bit and motivated in certain areas. I think he provides that.”

“We feel well-prepared,” MacLellan said about the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft, which will be held virtually over two days. Round 1 will take place at 7 PM ET on Tuesday, October 6. Rounds 2-7 will begin at 11:30 AM ET on Wednesday, October 7. The Capitals will have picks in the first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds.

Contract talks have been “ongoing”. According to MacLellan, the organization had a “good conversation” with captain Alex Ovechkin, who is heading into the final year of his 13-year contract, at the end of the season. He wants both parties to “communicate what they’re thinking and set the table for what could happen next year”.

As far as Free Agency, MacLellan mentioned he is “keeping in contact” with representatives. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk, defensemen Radko Gudas and Brenden Dillon, and goaltender Braden Holtby are the team’s roster unrestricted free agents (UFA’s). They will be free to negotiate with other teams on the aforementioned date unless they are re-signed by the date. Forward Travis Boyd and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler are restricted free agents (RFA’s) on the roster. Free Agency will open Friday, October 9, at 12 PM ET.

Several prospects in the Capitals organization such as defenseman Alexander Alexeyev, forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, and forward Aliaksei Protas have been loaned to European leagues for development purposes and “opportunities to continue to play”. The Capitals GM noted that whenever the 2020-21 season starts, which is reportedly set to begin on December 1, they will bring those players back for either the AHL or NHL.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
This entry was posted in Coach, Coaching, Interview, News, NHL, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to After An “Underachieved” Season, Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Says New Head Coach Peter Laviolette Will Provide Motivation & Accountability For the Team

  1. hockeydruid says:

    In MacLellan’s mind, the Capitals were “underachieved” this past season I totally agree and some of that was on the coach just fired and some is on the GM! I havent heard him say a word about what his responsibility is in all this. He is the one who obtains players and gives away draft picks so to me he is more to blame than the ex-coach as he is the one who gave him the players who do not work together or play up to par. In an attempt to keep the core together he has traded away some good young players who are producing for other teams. So sad that neither he nor the coaching staff knew how to use these players. Draft picks dont grow on trees but older players do and he needs to stop wasting picks on older players. I would like to see one, just one, season where before the trade deadline the went into the locker room and said no trades guys you are our team and we will win with you. Imagine the confidence boost for the players!

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Was thinking quite a bit about that as well, ‘Druid’. He hired Reirden (Trotz was hired same day as him), so Reirden is his miss. In addition, several of the latest acquisitions haven’t really hit the mark, but possibly the host concerning are the number of overpaid contracts. He certainly has a few blemishes.

    • Mark says:

      Good points. And I wonder if he is too loyal to this current group he’s had the last few years? You’ve seen how PItt, Carolina, Rangers, Avs, Tampa etc…, run their teams. They are always gaining in draft capital, good young players, so much so, they don’t know what to do with some of them. He needs to see that he can switch it up, even the hallowed top 6 and either gain another good young player or draft picks etc…

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        He probably is, Mark. I’m jealous of the organizations that have been able to win AND build their farm systems at the same time. It it can be done. That’s somewhere where the Caps have fallen short under GMBM.

      • Ryan says:

        Pitt is one of the worst farm teams in the NHL, Carolina is finally reaping the rewards of being terrible with their draft capital, rangers are in rebuild, Avs are a little bit ahead of Carolina and are now beginning to truly compete. And Tampa is the furthest along in full swing. All the while the caps for the most part are consistently competing over the past decade. Guys… The only team close to relevance in cyclical development age here is Pitt and their window just shut quicker then the caps.
        When you’re consistently winning you don’t get top 10 picks. Draft value outside of top 10 tends to turn into a crapshoot in how it will play out. those traded picks are worth more finding a developed player who can actually contribute to a cup run.
        When you see the caps drafting top 10… You’ll be right here with the rest of the fans wondering why we are not in the playoffs. I’ve been watching hockey for ages, it’s all cyclical. Have faith. Believe it or not the caps have a very capable roster.

Leave a Reply