The Washington Capitals are on the verge of missing the postseason for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign. The last time that happened, the team’s head coach, Adam Oates, was fired.
Naturally, Peter Laviolette’s future with the team is coming more into focus as the Capitals near the end of the season. The 58-year-old veteran bench boss is in the last year of his contract and the Capitals have not won a round in the playoffs during his tenure.
Early this season, it was reported that an extension for Laviolette was likely at some point this year. Monday, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman threw some cold water on that discussion while on The Jeff Marek Show.
I think the other thing that’s really happening there in Washington is all of a sudden there’s a little bit of uncertainty about Peter Laviolette. He’s in the last year of his contract and I thought that it was going to be a situation where he was going to get an extension because they were talking about it early in the year and that trail has gone cold.
I think we’re all sitting here and wondering what does that mean? Where are we going in this direction? Obviously, we don’t have clarity yet but I think some of us are beginning to wonder about it a little bit more.
The Capitals have certainly struggled under Laviolette this season as their hot December (11-2-2) remains the only month on the schedule where they have played above .500 hockey. As of right now, the Caps sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division and their 76 standings points see them six points out of the final wild-card playoff spot with just eight games left to play.
After their 4-3 loss in regulation to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, MoneyPuck had the Caps’ odds of making the playoffs at less than one percent (0.6%). They have a better chance of winning the draft lottery and selecting first overall (2.3%) than playing in the postseason.
The Caps have been severely banged up injury-wise for the second season in a row as the team’s gone with older players. Players like Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Tom Wilson, Nic Dowd, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, etc. have all seen extended stretches out of the lineup either with injury or recovering from injury.
Laviolette not mixing in enough youth into his lineups has been a consistent problem with him behind the bench in DC. Dmitry Orlov was critical of his treatment of 2018 first-round draft pick Alex Alexeyev. Other younger players like Jonas Siegenthaler and Jakub Vrana were critical of the roles they were given after being sent out of town in favor of older alternatives.
Select veterans have also shown their displeasure. Orlov could not come to an agreed-upon number to stick with the Caps after this season and was eventually traded. Fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov reportedly requested a trade originally two years ago under Laviolette and renewed that request this season.
It was reported on Monday by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, that if the Caps do indeed move on from Laviolette they have current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach and former Hershey Bears head coach Spencer Carbery on their shortlist.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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