Capitals' Peter Laviolette 'thankful' to become winningest American NHL coach

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Laviolette 'thankful' to become winningest American NHL coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

On an opening night full of milestones, the man behind the Capitals bench had one of his own to be proud of as Peter Laviolette became the NHL's all-time winningest American-born coach. 

While Alex Ovechkin stole all the headlines and the Capitals' young prospects impressed in Washington's 5-1 Wednesday night win against the Rangers, Laviolette notched an incredible milestone of his own. 

Laviolette passed John Tortorella with his 674th career win as an NHL head coach. 

"Well, first he's a great coach and he's won a lot of games. I always just think about it as I'm thankful. Thankful to have gotten a job a long time ago from Mike Milbury and be able to coach  for so many years," Laviolette said postgame. 

It all came thanks to a four-point Ovechkin performance, in which two of his goals helped him jump into the top-5 goalscorers of all time, a first NHL goal for Hendrix Lapierre and 23 saves from Vitek Vanecek as the Caps won their second straight season opener under Laviolette. 

"I've worked with, right now I'm working with, an incredible staff. Incredible coaches, incredible players. And that goes to all the organizations prior to this too. Like I've just worked with really good people," Laviolette said.

Including Washington's 36 regular-season victories and its lone first-round win against the Boston Bruins during the shortened 2021 season, roughly 6% of Laviolette's career wins have come with the Caps. 

From inheriting a New York Islanders squad that hadn't made the playoffs in seven years for his first NHL head coaching gig back in 2001 and taking them to consecutive postseasons to becoming the fourth American-born coach to lift a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, Laviolette has had quite the distinguished career.

He became the fourth coach to lead three different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals during his next two stops with the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. 

"A guy like [assistant coach] Kevin McCarthy who's been with me for a really long time. Everybody chips in toward that and toward the wins. It's not one guy winning, it's the team winning," Laviolette said. "So I think about that and I think about all the people I've connected with throughout my coaching career and I'm thankful more than anything else."