Head Coach Peter Laviolette finally made his first public appearance in Nashville today, and it was quite the first impression. Gone are the days of #Grit and #Sandpaper and #GrittySandpaper. The new guy clearly has an offensive focus, and drew cheers from the crowd every time it was mentioned. Which was often. He had tons of praise for the organization and the city. "If this wasn't the right fit for us we wouldn't be here," Laviolette said.
Laviolette also talked about getting to know some of his future players in Craig Smith and Seth Jones while coaching them at the World Championships. Of Smith he said, "there's nothing he does on the ice you don't like", and Seth Jones was "outstanding" and "deserved every vote" for Best Defenseman in the tournament. "It takes some of the newness off of it come the start of the season," Laviolette said.
He also mentioned that he was in the same hotel as Pekka Rinne, and got a chance to spend a lot of time with him.
His views on the development of younger players were particularly refreshing. In order for players to blossom,"You have to give them some responsibility", which to me is a welcome change from The Doghouse For Those Not Veteran Enough. He also mentioned that there's always a development process, regardless of the age of the player (uh oh, Those Previously Deemed Veteran Enough).
When the floor was open for questions from the audience, one young fan got right to the point: "Do you think you will be able to bring a Stanley Cup to Nashville?" That's tough for any coach to answer, let alone a brand new one in a public setting, but to his credit, Laviolette gave a safe, yet inspirational response.
"I would feel good if this team, and these players, this staff, this organization, this fan base and the city of Nashville built something that was so special that at the end of the day you look back at it and say this is one of the greatest things I've ever done."
"When people start to believe in that, and people start to say this is something special. And it's not just the coach, and it's not the assistant coach, it's not one player, but an entire group that becomes a family, that anything is attainable. If that happens, we're going to go down the road that you want to go down," Laviolette said.
"A coach's job is to go in with a plan, and to sell that plan and get people to believe in that plan. Hopefully that plan takes effect and becomes successful to win a championship."
All in all, a very good start indeed.