WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Washington Capitals took the ice for development camp at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Monday, there was a familiar name — and similar face — that took the ice with the team’s top prospects, listed on the roster as none other than Peter Laviolette. It wasn’t the long-time head coach, but his son, Peter Laviolette III, and he had a clear mission that week: to prove he belonged and was not just the “coach’s son.”
Despite being a spitting image of his father with regard to appearance and passion and knowledge for the game, he did just that.
“I know my dad’s the coach and I have the same name and everything, but for me to come and be my own person and show my own skill and play a little bit of hockey and show everybody I can play here is just an honor,” Laviolette III said. “I’ve loved every second… it’s been one of the best weeks of my life.”
Laviolette III has been around the league his whole life as the son of a full-time head coach. He’s seen dressing rooms, arenas, rinks and everything in between. However, this week provided a new experience for him as he walked into the practice facility and Capital One Arena as a player. This time, he had a stall and gear laid out for him, and the sweater number 81.
“That itself is amazing. I’ve always been in an NHL locker room because of my dad. And I’ve always been able to see it from like a kid’s standpoint and an outsider’s standpoint,” Laviolette III explained. “But being in this week and really being here, I just can’t say it enough. I’m just truly happy to be here and enjoy this experience with all you guys, with all the teammates, all the boys, the staff has been incredible this week. I just can’t thank these guys enough for an incredible time.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Lapierre, Laviolette Headline Capitals Development Camp Scrimmage
Laviolette III’s camp started with “humbling” skating drills, where coach Wendy Marco encouraged prospects to embrace their mistakes. He then scored a highlight-reel goal during scrimmages and repeated with another baseball-bat tally on the big stage at Capital One Arena on Friday. He also dished an assist to pick up a team-leading two points (tied with Hendrix Lapierre) and lead Red past White, 5-3.
“It’s pretty funny. I played a little baseball in college this year and my state line was one hit, 52 at-bats. I think I’ve had more hits this week hockey than I did in my whole baseball season,” he laughed.
Instead of being “Lavi’s son,” he was just part of the team. Peter Laviolette helped with that, and though he watched the 24-year-old on the ice, he distanced himself to let Laviolette III enjoy the moment.
“It’s been a good week. He actually shut me out this week, he let me be my own person,” Laviolette admitted, laughing, “I didn’t want to be attached with him at all and didn’t want the boys to think anything like that. So really just be my own person this week and enjoy it.”
And, for Dad, it’s been an amazing experience as well.
“You’re watching development camp and you’re watching all your players, but he’s out there. And he did good. He’s looked good out there,” Laviolette said, adding, “It’s great to see everybody out there, but when you have your son out there, it changes the look on it a little bit and I thought he’s done a good job.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Were Reportedly In On Marchment, Mikheyev
Laviolette III has been playing his whole life and plays NCAA Division III hockey with the Plymouth State Panthers. He wore the “C” for them, and this season, dished 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 games. As he came into a first development camp, the grad student feared not fitting in with the high picks and top up-and-comers, but after hitting the ice, felt “a weight off his shoulders” as he kept up.
“That was kind of a worry coming into the camp,” Laviolette III said of not fitting in. “I was playing Division 3, so a lot of these guys play at a higher level [and] I knew I was going to have to step up my pace a little bit here. I think the first day just finding my legs with these guys and really just getting comfortable out there. But you know eventually found my legs and got comfortable,” Laviolette III said. “It was easy after that. Everybody made a couple mistakes this week. Can’t sweat the small things you got to move on. Just play your game at the end of the day… it’s a lot different.”
Not only did Laviolette III get the experience of a lifetime, but he also found a new team inside the locker room that embraced him for who he is, not who his father is.
“Everybody’s been super friendly. As you get older, you start to weed out bad guys in hockey. I don’t think there’s any bad guys here at this camp,” Laviolette III said. “I think the Capitals do a really good job of bringing in good future players for this team. And I think that’s what they’ve done this week. These guys are great kids. I know they’re gonna grow a lot in these next few years here, and the Caps have a really bright future ahead of them.”