Photos: Diane Doyle
Thursday night, the Washington Capitals hosted a VIP Happy Hour at Caesar’s Sportsbook in Washington, DC. The event was hosted by Capitals legend Craig Laughlin and featured a Q&A with Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette.
Laviolette answered a wide range of questions, including which free agents the Capitals recently signed and the current development camp, which is currently underway at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
The Road to Hockey
Laviolette also spoke about his hockey journey, which included four years at Westfield State Hockey as part of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). He then played professionally for almost 10 years, mostly in minor league hockey, but also 12 games with the New York Rangers in 1988-89.
Laviolette also represented the United States at the 1988 Olympics where Tony Granato, a teammate of his with the Colorado Rangers and later a teammate with the New York Rangers, was his roommate.
At the end of his playing career, Laviolette was offered a player/assistant coach position with his last team, the Providence Bruins, but said he wanted to be a head coach, eventually becoming the head coach. of the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL for the 1997-98 season. Wheeling is where his son Peter, who is on the development camp roster this week, was born.
Laviolette then talked about the new free agents who had signed with the team, including Darcy Kuemper, Charles Lindgren, Marcus Johansson, Matt Ervin and Erik Gustafsson. Many of the comments he made about new free agents on Happy Hour were similar to comments he made during his practice press conference after development camp on Wednesday. [Note: At the time of this happy hour, the news of the Capitals signing Dylan Strome had not been released.]
Speaking of Kuemper, Laviolette said he was thrilled to have him on the team, reveling in his “experience and success.” He mentioned that Kuemper covers a lot of the net and keeps the pucks out of the net.
Laviolette also spoke about the signing of backup goaltender Charles Lindgren, saying, “From what I understand, he’s a really great person, a great team guy, and he’s also had good numbers, so definitely a new look in the net for us. and we’re really excited about it.
His comments about Marcus Johansson included that he knew the team, most of the systems and how to get around in Washington, but still had to adjust to Laviolette who had never coached him before.
Laviolette mentioned that he once coached Matt Irwin in Nashville and praised his work ethic and attitude.
Laviolette also talked about development camp and the fact that this year he was coaching his son, Peter. He mentioned that he had two other children, Jack and Elizabeth, and that Jack also played hockey.
Peter Jr. played five years of hockey at Plymouth State University, an NCAA Division III school. He gained an extra year of eligibility, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Peter Junior was working on his master’s degree in his final year of eligibility. Coach Laviolette said he hopes his development camp exposure will help him get an NHL opportunity, even though he’s unlikely to get it with the Capitals.
Laviolette also talked about how development camps have changed over the years. In the past, camps involved hard work. These days they include topics such as nutrition and the development of the whole person.
Laviolette talked about top prospect Hendrix Lapierre and his development since last season and also expressed his excitement for Connor McMichael, even though he wasn’t at development camp.
Another topic Laviolette touched on was Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Before coaching the Capitals, Laviolette admitted he didn’t know Ovechkin personally, but once he started coaching the team, he learned that Ovechkin really loves hockey and is even enthusiastic about it. thinking about training. Every time he wants to take a day off, he really needs it. Often, he trained on days when most other veterans were off.
After Laviolette finished his Q&A, he posed for photos with fans before leaving. Laughlin, meanwhile, stayed behind to interact with fans. A fun fact we learned about Laughlin at the event is that his son’s wife is currently expecting a baby. Thus, Locker is about to become a grandfather. Congratulations to Craig and the Laughlin family!
By Diane Doyle