The New York Rangers are off to an incredible start this season. Their recent 5–3 victory over Detroit improved the Blueshirts’ record to 9-2-1, good for fourth best in the NHL. Many changes have been made to the team this year to create this success, and a major cause of this improvement has come from the Rangers’ newly hired head coach, Peter Laviolette.
Laviolette has been so influential on the Rangers through the first 12 games of the season that he is already making a case for the Jack Adams Award. Per the NHL, the Jack Adams is “an annual award presented by the NHL Broadcaster’s Association to ‘the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.'” Based on what we’ve seen so far, Laviolette fits this description.
The difference between Gallant and Laviolette is night and day
The Rangers were entering the 2023-24 season in shambles following what was an unexpectedly disappointing postseason performance last year. Previous head coach Gerard Gallant let the Rangers down tremendously with his lack of planning and play structure. This ultimately led to his firing, and Laviolette was brought in as the replacement.
Laviolette seems to be doing the exact opposite of what Gallant did, and the Rangers are reaping the benefits. He enters each game with a plan in mind and directs the play with specific techniques catered to what his players do best. He hasn’t given up on any player through twelve games and has barely had to change any of the line combinations. Laviolette appears to be a well-respected member of the Blueshirts’ locker room and the players have full faith in his abilities.
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The Rangers are enjoying Laviolette’s hands-on approach
Laviolette is not afraid to tell his star players what to do. He can analyze their strengths, utilize them in specific circumstances, and avoid playing them when they are at their weakest.
He’s also been able to bring abilities out of players that nobody knew they had. In 12 games with Laviolette, Artemi Panarin went from a giveaway addict to one of the best defensive forwards on the Rangers. After giving up the puck over 100 times last season, Panarin now has only seven giveaways in 12 games played. And although he’s improved defensively, this hasn’t taken away from his elite point production either.
Does Laviolette have a shot at winning the Jack Adams?
There are a handful of great candidates for the Jack Adams already beginning to shine early on this season. Rick Tocchet has revived the Vancouver Canucks, and Greg Cronin has done the same for the Anaheim Ducks. Laviolette has also done wonders for the Rangers, so he has the chance the stand among some of the NHL greats.
Laviolette will need to keep the Rangers going strong throughout the year to maintain his chances of taking home the award. He’s had a great start to the season and has already gotten his name thrown around in discussion, but it’s the next 70 games that will determine who wins. It’s still early to tell, but be sure to keep an eye on Laviolette’s contributions as the season progresses.