COLORADO SPRINGS – USA Hockey announced Tuesday that Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career in the ECHL, has been named as the head coach of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Laviolette is head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in the National Hockey League, named to the position on December 15, 2003.
In his first season as a professional coach in 1997-98, Laviolette led Wheeling to a second-place division finish with a 37-24-9 record and the Nailers advanced to the conference finals of the Kelly Cup Playoffs before losing to eventual champion Hampton Roads. Laviolette became the second ECHL coach to become a head coach in the National Hockey League, coaching the New York Islanders from 2001-03. The Islanders qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2002 and 2003 after missing the postseason for seven consecutive seasons. Prior to joining the Islanders, Laviolette was an assistant coach with Boston in 2000-01 and was head coach of Providence of the American Hockey League from 1998-2000. In 1998-99 with Providence, he was named AHL Coach of the Year after Providence won the championship.
Laviolette has become a familiar face behind the bench for the United States in international play, directing the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in May where the U.S. lost in a shootout to eventual gold medalist Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. He was also head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team that won the bronze medal at the 2004 IIHF World Championship, a finish that secured the U.S. a spot in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Laviolette guided the U.S. Men’s National Select Team to the championship at the 2003 Deutschland Cup in Hanover, Germany as Team USA went undefeated in three games and gained its first title in just its second year of participation.
“It’s quite an honor to have the opportunity to coach the U.S. Olympic Team. To be honest, it’s really hard to sum up in words how excited and proud I am to be asked to coach this team,” said Laviolette. “We’ll have one goal when the Olympics roll around in February and that’s to win the gold medal. We have a legitimate chance and that’s a credit to the continued development of hockey in the United States thanks largely to the hard work of all the volunteers in USA Hockey’s grassroots programs that give of their time and talents.”
In addition to Laviolette, former ECHL coaches that have been head coaches in the National Hockey League are Bruce Cassidy, Dave Allison and John Torchetti. ECHL coaches that will be behind NHL benches as assistant coaches in 2004-05 are Wayne Cashman with Boston, Bruce Cassidy with Chicago, Dave Farrish with Anaheim, Peter Horachek with Nashville, Charlie Huddy with Edmonton, Jamie Kompon with St. Louis, Brian McCutcheon with Buffalo, Jim Playfair with Calgary, and Barry Smith with Vancouver.