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NHL roundup: Laviolette named Predators coach

The SportsXchange

The Nashville Predators filled their coaching vacancy on Tuesday with the hiring of Peter Laviolette.

Laviolette, who won a 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, becomes the second coach in franchise history. He follows Barry Trotz, who served as the coach since the franchise began play in 1998 but let go after the Predators missed the playoffs this season.

Laviolette signed a multiyear contract, the team announced, but financial terms were not available. The Predators also named Kevin McCarthy as an assistant.

Laviolette has a career record of 389-202-25-63 as the coach of the New York Islanders (2001-03), Hurricanes (2003-09) and Philadelphia Flyers (2009-2014). His teams made the playoffs six times, including the Stanley Cup with Carolina and a Finals apppearance with the Flyers in 2010. But three games into the 2013-14 season, Laviolette was fired by the Flyers.

---Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche are finalists for the NHL coach of the year award.

Jack Adams Award nominations are made by NHL broadcasters when the regular season ends. A winner chosen from the three finalists is announced June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards.

Babcock led the Red Wings (39-28-15, 93 points) to their 23rd consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff berth, the longest active streak in North American professional sports. In his first full season behind the bench, Cooper guided Tampa Bay (46-27-9, 101 points) to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division after the club placed 28th in the overall League standings in 2012-13. Roy lifted the Avalanche (52-22-8, 112 points) to a historic turnaround in his rookie season as an NHL head coach, helping the team finish third in the overall league standings after placing 29th in 2012-13.

---Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was hit in the throat by a puck on Sunday and still cannot speak, but that would not stop him from playing in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild.

While Hjalmarsson is not yet medically cleared to use his voice, he has the go-ahead to be on the ice and participated in the morning skate in the Xcel Energy Center wearing a protective neck shield.

Hjalmarsson took a shot to the throat in the first period of Game 2 on Sunday but returned after missing only one shift. The Blackhawks held a 2-0 lead in the series. Hjalmarsson leads the NHL in blocked shots during the playoffs with 30, including four in Game 2.

---Nearly two years after goaltender Andrei Vasilevskii was selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, he signed a three-year, entry-level contract on Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 19th overall pick in the 2012 drarft spent this season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. He posted a 14-8 record in 28 games with three shutouts, a 2.21 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

According to reports, the 19-year-old Vasilevskii is considered one of the top young goaltending prospects in the world but might elect to remain in Russia next season rather than play in North America and end up in the American Hockey League.
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