The Peter Laviolette who made his NHL coaching debut with the Islanders on Oct. 5, 2001 — six days before Alexis Lafreniere was born?
Who has led five previous NHL teams while coaching in at least part of the past 21 consecutive seasons?
Who used to be a boy wonder but now is a grizzled 58-year-old?
Yes, that Peter Laviolette.
In keeping with the NHL’s peculiar tradition of having established coaches play a game of musical chairs as jobs open and close, the Rangers on Tuesday said the much-traveled Laviolette will succeed the much-traveled Gerard Gallant.
Sure, other sports recycle coaches, too, but none can outdo hockey in its lack of patience, and its lack of creativity in seeking out new blood.
So let’s be clear: Hiring Laviolette to coach the Blueshirts is boring.
It’s an eye roll of a choice, the easy way out for general manager Chris Drury, who has an experienced, highly paid roster that made taking chances, well, chancy.
But all that does not make it the wrong choice. That will be born out over time, of course, based on what happens on the ice, especially next spring.
Given the proven coaching commodities on the market, Laviolette made as much sense as any.
Drury, who is 12 years younger than Laviolette, praised him in a news release for his experience and success, both of which are difficult to argue with.
He won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, has been to the Final three times and has a winning record with all five of his previous teams. Even the Islanders!
His 752 victories are the most for an American-born NHL coach.
All 12 of his NHL games as a player came as a defenseman with the Rangers in 1988. His goals and points are tied with mine on the team’s career scoring list.
As far as the “retread” label goes, this is perhaps not the time to be pooh-poohing the concept.
Paul Maurice, who led the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final, has been coaching even longer than Laviolette has, and last season was with Winnipeg.
Bruce Cassidy, who led the Golden Knights to the Final, started one season later than Laviolette, and last season was with Boston.
So, might Drury look like a genius this time next year — or the year after that? Sure, he might.
Laviolette certainly knows the area and the division. The Rangers will be the fifth (!!!) Metropolitan Division team he has coached. (There are only eight.)
Presumably the Devils, Penguins and Blue Jackets merely are awaiting their turns for when the coaching wheel spins again.
In the meantime, Laviolette has a clear mission: Win the Stanley Cup. Yes, that is every coach’s mission, but in this case nothing short of that will do.
If he accomplishes it, whatever comes after that will not matter. Remember, the only coach to lead the Rangers to a Cup since 1940, Mike Keenan, lasted one season.
That’s hockey, Suzyn.
It is a sport of flow and improvisation in which coaches set structural principles, tinker with lines, decide on starting goalies and beyond that mostly establish a tone. It is not the NFL, where every move is planned and micromanaged.
So this always is a matter of feel when it comes to hirings, firings and recyclings.
Drury felt he could not turn over the keys to his snazzy but sometimes sputtering sports car to a novice.
So Laviolette it is, after a five-week search that lacked buzz from start to finish.
Interesting, it is not. But that does not make it wrong. In any case, the merry-go-round continues.
Remember the aforementioned Maurice? He was fired by the Hurricanes in 2003 and replaced by Laviolette.
Laviolette was fired by the Hurricanes in 2008 and replaced by . . . Maurice.