Peter Laviolette has 18 seasons of head coaching experience for four different NHL teams. But after being hired by the Capitals in the summer, the 56-year-old Lavy has had trouble getting to know his new players because of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s just completely different,” Laviolette said. “Typically a coach would be here a month before the season starts and in the rink. And while you’re not allowed to work with the players and I respect the rules, you see them and bump into them. You may see them around the rink or you could go to dinner with them or you could sit down with them at breakfast and talk and get to know them a little bit.”
Laviolette also recently had to decline a meal with the team’s captain and best player, Alex Ovechkin, due to the new protocols.
“I’ve talked to Alex (Ovechkin) three or four times over the phone,” Laviolette said. “He texted me the other night and wanted to know if I wanted to go to dinner. I said ‘I’m quarantining right now. I can’t go.’ And so that is just a typical thing. A chance to maybe grab Alex and go out and talk a little bit.
“I know him. He knows me. But we don’t really know each other that well so that would have been a great opportunity but it wasn’t able to happen,” Laviolette added. “I told him as soon as I’m clear from protocol and the procedures from the NHL, I’d love to get a bite to eat. It’ll happen but it’s made it a little more difficult.”
Ovechkin likely was inviting Laviolette to Sakura Japanese Steak and Seafood House near his home in Northern Virginia. Ovi was spotted at the restaurant Saturday night and autographed a stick for the lead chef Taka.
The inscription says 700 goal. To Tako Bell.
Ovechkin has brought his teammates, family, and friends to Sakura. Ovi’s even sometimes jumped behind the grill to be a chef himself. In 2019, he celebrated his eighth 50-goal season and his 600th goal the year before.
It’s a special place for Ovechkin and he wanted Lavy to experience one of the things that makes him most happy. That’s a good sign as the Capitals enter the 2020-21 season looking to become Stanley Cup champions once again.
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