A favorite finally has surfaced for the Devils’ coaching position. Although interim GM Tom Fitzgerald and several players have buttered up interim head coach Alain Nasreddine as a great option, a bigger name has emerged as the leading candidate.
Peter Laviolette is the favorite, TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger reported on “Inside Trading.”
“I’d say there’s a number of top candidates including Alain Nasreddine,” Dreger said. “But the name that I keep hearing is a familiar one. And that is Peter Laviolette.”
Hiring Laviolette would add more credibility to the rebuilding Devils, who have missed the playoffs seven times in the last eight seasons.
Laviolette, 55, has one of the best coaching resumes in NHL history, as he’s one of four to lead three franchises to Stanley Cup Finals. He won a Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes and won conference titles with the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators.
According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, the Devils have settled on four finalists from a group of at least 10 candidates that interviewed and Nasreddine is among them.
Nasreddine, 44, become a first-time head coach when the Devils fired John Hynes on Dec. 3 and led his team to a 19-16-8 record. A month later, Hynes resurfaced in Nashville when the Predators fired Laviolette on Jan 6.
Others who reportedly have interviewed with the Devils include Gerard Gallant, who led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team in 2017-18 as well as former Flyers and Kings coach John Stevens.
“There’s been a process that has been ongoing for quite some time, and it’s involved talking to other candidates, other coaches,” Fitzgerald said Thursday in a media conference call. Those reports are true. It’s no secret. I’m not gonna sit there and hide that’s what is going on.”
Along with Laviolette, Nasreddine is receiving serious consideration.
“I think Nass has done a remarkable job for somebody who’s never been a head coach, someone who had this position thrusted on him,” Fitzgerald added. “I think Nass has grown in a lot of areas. He’s put himself in a good situation here to continue to talk to our people, talk to the owners and talk to myself about continuing on as the head coach.”
Laviolette would bring an aggressive offensive style and toughness to the Devils, whose building blocks include two young centers who were recent first overall draft picks, Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
Laviolette has had a lot of success at all of his NHL coaching stops. Islanders didn’t make the playoffs for seven years in a row, then went two straight seasons after Laviolette became the league’s youngest head coach at 37 in 2001-02.
Laviolette has a 637-425-148 record over 18 NHL seasons with the Islanders, Hurricanes, Flyers and Predators.
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