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Rangers’ Laviolette vs Panthers’ Maurice

A matchup of two coaches who were once behind the same bench, now battling in the Eastern Conference

May 22 2024

Game One of the Eastern Conference Final between the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers is Wednesday at 8:00 PM EST. and the series features two of the best coaches in hockey. SOURCE: NHL (TWITTER/X) 

It’s hard not to notice the two head coaches in the Eastern Conference Final and how their careers are intertwined. Paul Maurice and Peter Laviolette both coached the Carolina Hurricanes in the early 2000s and succeeded one another in a timeline that looks like this.

      The Hurricanes, then the Hartford Whalers, hired Maurice in the middle of the 1995-96 season.

      In the middle of the 2003-04 season, they fire Maurice and hire Laviolette.

      Laviolette leads them to a Stanley Cup title the next season.

      In the middle of the 2008-09 season, Laviolette is fired and Maurice is hired.

The point is that both coaches have a unique tie to one another and have been around for a while. Now, Laviolette leads the New York Rangers and Maurice is behind the Florida Panthers bench and one of them will lead their team to the Stanley Cup Final.

Both Maurice & Laviolette Have Plenty of Experience

Aside from their Hurricanes tenures, both coaches have been around the block. Maurice has coached four teams over the span of 26 seasons while Laviolette has coached six teams in 22 seasons. 

These types of coaches are often referred to as “retreads” or recycled coaches and oftentimes, it’s easy to look at them as failures or coaches poised to fail. They are hired by a team and a few seasons later are shown the door. That isn’t a recipe for success much less stability. 

Yet, both Laviolette and Maurice have proven the value of an experienced coach. They’ve led two of the best teams in the NHL and are one step away from leading their teams to the Final.

The Influence They’ve Had on Their Teams 

Both the Rangers and the Panthers are heavily influenced by their coaches. Culture is an overused word in sports and often not applicable yet these two have set the tone for their teams both on and off the ice.

Laviolette balanced out the Rangers and more importantly, made them a disciplined group. They play the game one shift at a time and when a mistake is made, it’s addressed but then the team moves on. It’s why the Rangers win games one shift at a time.

Peter Laviolette. SOURCE: NHL (TWITTER/X) 

The Panthers meanwhile became a defense-first team, one that plays with physicality and a forecheck in all three zones. Maurice is the reason why and he makes sure every skater on the team is making an impact on both ends of the ice.

On top of that, both coaches bring a fire and energy behind the bench that rubs off on the players. It’s why they bring out the best in their players.

The On-Ice Matchup in This Series

The Panthers have an offense that can run up the score but they will want to win with defense. Maurice will want to slow the game down and allow the defense to control the pace.

The Rangers on the other hand want to speed things up. Laviolette will look to make this series a high-scoring one where their offense takes over. Sure, the Rangers have a great defense and better goaltending but they’ll want their forward unit to constantly make plays in space.

The Eastern Conference Final will be a chess match and it starts with the two head coaches. Laviolette and Maurice are sure to deliver and provide a great series, one where the Rangers or Panthers will have to earn their way into the Stanley Cup Final.

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