Laviolette tells us he's not shocked over being fired by Hurricanes

December, 5, 2008
Peter Laviolette apologized for being 15 minutes late in calling us.

"My phone's been ringing off the hook," the fired Carolina Hurricanes coach told on Friday. "It's amazing how people have reached out from the U.S. and Canada. GMs, coaches, players -- it's an amazing thing. And it can really make a difference."

Two days later, his dismissal is sinking in. The decompressing has begun.

"One, I don't think you should ever be shocked," Laviolette said. "As I said to [Hurricanes GM] Jim [Rutherford], the minute you accept the job, you know there's probably an ending at some point. Some are longer than others and I've been fortunate enough to be here just a touch under five years."

Just like the rest of us in the business, he knew very well Rutherford had toyed with the idea a few times before in the last year.

"When it gets out there like that, there's not as much shock involved with it," Laviolette said.

In the post-lockout NHL, coaches are more under the gun than ever, Laviolette said. Like we also wrote a few days ago, every team in the league believes they should be making the playoffs. Someone pays the price when that doesn't happen.

"When I was talking to Jim a few days ago, I was saying to him that it's a very tough league right now, especially for coaches," he said. "There's a lot of parity. Everybody goes in with the expectation of making the playoffs and competing for the Stanley Cup. It's almost too equal. There's obviously a few teams that have risen above it, and a couple that have fallen below it, but everyone else is in a .500 blender.

"You're either a couple above .500 or a couple below .500, and certainly either in the mix for the cutoff line between eight and nine in your conference."

So, what now?

"It's really hard to say," said Laviolette, who has two and half years remaining on his Hurricanes contract. "That's the crazy thing about coaching. You don't really know what the future holds. Your willingness to coach could be one thing, somebody's willingness to take you could be another.

"But my phone number is out there, so who knows what's going to happen."

The big winner right now could be USA Hockey. Come time for the World Championships in the spring, both Laviolette and John Tortorella could be available.

"If USA Hockey calls, I'm in," Laviolette said. "I don't care what they want me to do. I've been to those tournaments and absolutely love them."

In the short term, Laviolette the dad will be more prevalent than the coach.

"The holidays are coming up," Laviolette said. "My wife and I have three young kids. I don't get to see many hockey games from my boys. It's an opportunity to enjoy my family."

The positive easily outweighs the negative for him. Yes, it's disappointing to be fired, but he's had five great years in Carolina.

"A lot of times, when something like this happens, it's easy just to see and read about the bad things," he said. "I take with me so many good memories from here and from this experience in Raleigh. Friends that we've made here, things that have happened off the ice, as well as on the ice.

"Obviously, the championship, and any time you can win at any level, it doesn't matter which level, it's a truly amazing and special experience. You look at it as one of the greatest experiences in your life. Once the smoke settles here and times goes on, that's exactly how I will look at this."

Laviolette has NHL and AHL championships on his résumé. He'll be behind an NHL bench before the puck drops next October.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?