In a Southeast Division race that is sure to be tight again this coming season, teams will be looking for any advantage possible to help move them to the top. One big advantage that the Carolina Hurricanes possess is having an experienced NHL coach behind the bench. The other teams in the division certainly can not claim that benefit.
Atlanta's coach, John Anderson and Florida's Peter DeBoer have yet to coach a single NHL game. While Washington's Bruce Boudreau had a great record last year, he has yet to coach an entire NHL season. Barry Melrose in Tampa Bay has not coached in over 10 years and has a lifetime winning percentage of only .447.
But not only is Peter Laviolette the most experienced coach in the division, he's one of the top performing coaches in the entire NHL.
In this recent article on ESPN.com, Terry Frei ranks NHL coaches as "The Elite", "The Proven", "The Jury is Still Out", "The Suspect", and "Who The Heck Knows?". Laviolette is ranked as "Proven", behind Mike Babcock, Lindy Ruff, Barry Trotz, and Jacques Lemaire, who are each ranked as "Elite".
I can see giving Mike Babcock his due, but what puts the other coaches ahead of Lavi? Ruff has the longest tenure in the league, but has he ever won the Stanley Cup? Barry Trotz has done a pretty good job in Nashville, but call me if he ever wins a playoff series and advances to the 2nd round. Lemaire has been heavily criticized for having a boring system in Minnesota which some players hate.
Let's take a look at winning percentages.
- Laviolette 232 - 173 - 25 .564
- Lemaire 500 - 381 - 124 .557
- Ruff 820 - 397 - 302 .558
- Trotz 324 - 308 - 60 .511
Pardon me if I'm wrong, but it looks like Laviolette has the best winning percentage of any of them.
Even though last year was a major disappointment because Carolina failed to make the playoffs, the team's 43 wins were the second highest since the franchise moved to Carolina. The only year better was the record breaking 52 wins under Laviolette in 2005-06. Like him or hate him, Peter Laviolette wins hockey games.
Barring some kind of catastrophe this coming season, the coach will soon have the distinction of becoming the winningest American born coach in NHL history. John Tortorella, (239-225-37), currently holds the lead, but seeing that he is unemployed at the present time, Laviolette should easily surpass him early this year. (By the way, Lavi's winning percentage compared to Tort's is .564 to .513).
Even the legendary Herb Brooks takes a back seat as far as NHL success goes. Brooks had a lifetime NHL record of 219-219-66 for a .500 winning percentage.
Things have been busy for me the past couple of days, but regarding Hurricanes news there really isn't much going on right now. I subscribe to several online news services which alert me when anything Hurricanes related is reported, and all there has been lately is old stuff.
I recently updated The Hockey News blog with information about the current status of Carolina's blueline and plan to do the same regarding the goalies and the forwards a bit later this week, so that THN readers will be up to date concerning the current status of the team. Most of this we have already discussed here though.
I'm also working on a new article for Canes Country which needs a bit more research before it's completed. That should be up in a day or two. In the meantime, I'll keep looking for more tidbits of news to over-analyze.