Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 09
The Stanley Cup Journal

Peter and Kristen Laviolette discover that a 'silver' anniversary can be commemorated after ten years, if you celebrate with the right present! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
At the initiation of the 2006-07 season, Carolina Hurricanes' coach Peter Laviolette turned to his wife Kristen and said, "Honey, this year, I promise you gold, silver and diamonds." It was all a little cryptic at the time, but turned out be a prophecy beyond anyone's comprehension.

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Like so many other young men born in hockey-mad Massachusetts, Peter Laviolette also dreamed of one day playing in the National Hockey League. A defenseman with an edge and good offensive instincts, Laviolette spent two years starring with Westfield State College of the NCAA before turning pro in 1986-87 with the Indianapolis Checkers of the now-defunct International Hockey League. Through eleven seasons, Peter solidified the blueline on several IHL and AHL squads, and achieved his dream of playing in the NHL when the New York Rangers summoned him to 'the show' for 12 games during the 1988-89 season. There, he played alongside stars Guy Lafleur, Brian Leetch and Tony Granato, as well as players like Doug Wickenheiser and Lindy Ruff who, like Laviolette, went on to pursue careers in hockey management after their playing days had concluded.

Retiring after the 1996-97 season, Peter was hired to coach the East Coast Hockey League's Wheeling Nailers in 1997-98. The very next year, behind the bench for the Providence Bruins, Laviolette guided the AHL franchise to the Calder Cup championship, and was also named the recipient of the Louis Pieri Award as the league's top coach.

Two years with Providence led to an assistant coaching position with the NHL's Bruins in 2000-01. The New York Islanders hired Peter in 2001-02 and in both of his years on Long Island, Laviolette guided his team into the playoffs, something that had not been done in the seven years prior to his hiring.

Peter Laviolette was a mid-season replacement for Carolina in 2003-04, joining the team on December 15 after long-time coach Paul Maurice was relieved of his duties.

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After missing the playoffs in 2003-04 and a lock-out erased an entire season, the Carolina Hurricanes rebounded to earn 112 points in 2005-06, good for first place in the NHL's Southeast Division. After dismissing the Canadiens in six games and New Jersey in five, Laviolette met former Rangers' teammate Lindy Ruff as Carolina faced the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference final. The Hurricanes edged the Sabres in seven games to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup final. There, as has been very well-documented, Carolina crushed the Oilers' dreams by winning the Cup final 4 games to 3 to earn the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. Few observers will ever forget the sight of family and friends surrounding the Hurricanes on the ice at the RBC Center in Raleigh following the Stanley Cup presentation. The image of Peter Laviolette being embraced by his wife Kristen is indelibly stored in the memory banks of 'Canes' fans everywhere.

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Reigning Stanley Cup champion coach Peter Laviolette savoured a celebration first in his neighbourhood near Raleigh, North Carolina, then in his hometown of Franklin, Massachusetts. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Peter Laviolette enjoyed two days with Lord Stanley's precious trophy. On Monday, July 3, the triumphant coach took the Stanley Cup to his Raleigh-area neighbourhood as part of a massive Fourth of July party thrown by neighbours on his street. The block party was incredible, with the street blocked off and barbecues lined up along the entire block, cooking up hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken breasts and steaks. There were more salads than at a Weight Watchers' convention, too. And desserts? Unbelievable! No one went home peckish.

With the sounds of the celebration proudly blasting down the street — Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' and John Mellencamp's 'R.O.C.K. in the USA' to name but two, the Laviolettes' next-door neighbour launched an extraordinary fireworks display. This wasn't just a Roman candle and a couple of sparklers; this rivaled the best shows mounted anywhere in the state. It was H-U-G-E!!!

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The next day, the actual Fourth of July, the Stanley Cup traveled to Boston, where it was met by a friend of the Laviolettes, a police officer, who drove the Cup to Franklin, Massachusetts, the hometown of Carolina coach. Both sides of the family met at the home of Peter's in-laws. Greeted there by relatives and friends, Peter and Kristen proudly displayed the Cup, and were pleased to hand out 8x10 photos of the two of them on the ice during the Stanley Cup celebration.

You see, June 3, 2006 was the tenth wedding anniversary of Peter and Kristen Laviolette. While playing for Providence, Peter had spotted Kristen at the Delta Airlines counter of Boston's Logan International Airport. "Oh my God, will you look at her?" he told his teammates. "Go on over and ask her out," the boys smirked.

Peter did just that. He ambled over and said hi, giving the beautiful young lady his number and hoping she'd call. When he returned to where his team waited, he sighed, "Boys, I've just met my future wife!"

"Yeah, sure! We'll see," they snickered. After a couple of days waiting on pins and needles for the phone to ring, Peter finally did hear from Kristen, and the rest, as they say, is history. Ten years of history. The Laviolettes now have three wonderful children — Peter, Jack and Elisabeth.

At the beginning of the hockey season, Peter promised Kristen gold, silver and diamonds. Regrettably, as coach of Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Laviolette was unable to bring home the gold, but there on the ice at the RBC Center in Raleigh on Monday, June 19, Peter delivered on the second of his promises. "There you go, honey. The Stanley Cup — there's your silver!" A moment later, standing on the ice with the tumult of a Stanley Cup celebration unfolding around them, the coach delivered on his third promise, too. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a spectacular anniversary ring. Handing it to his wife, Peter said, "Happy tenth anniversary, Kristen. Here are the diamonds I promised you. I love you, honey!"

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Franklin, Massachusetts held a short-lived parade to honour conquering hometown hero Peter Laviolette. Before torrential rains concluded the proceedings, the coach introduced the town's finest to his finest -- the Stanley Cup! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
At 2PM, Franklin, Massachusetts held a parade through the town's main street. The Stanley Cup was placed on a pedestal on a float, and the five Laviolettes — Peter, Kristen and the kids — rode with the championship trophy. But thunder warned of things to come, and the threatening sky erupted. On their wedding day, Peter and Kristen had encountered a spring storm so bad that twenty guests had been jolted by lightning (and not the Tampa Bay-variety, either). Several people had been taken to the hospital for observation, where nurses were on the scene to check on pulses. Several of the guests returned to the wedding wearing a badge of honour -- their hospital wristbands. With the sky dark and the rain gently falling, Peter was encountering some déjà vu and asked organizers how wise it was for the Stanley Cup to be driven through a thunder and lightning storm. Town officials agreed, and the parade was disbanded. Just then, with a loud crack of thunder, the heavens opened, flooding the participants as they were heading for their cars. Laviolette could do nothing but laugh.

The Stanley Cup was taken by the coach to the Franklin Commons, and was greeted by thousands who arrived to greet Laviolette and see the Cup in person. The original plan was to allow fans to get a photo with Peter and the Canes' Cup, but sheer numbers thwarted that idea. Instead of allowing individual shots, Laviolette carried the Stanley Cup up and down the lines of people, off and on, for two hours, allowing everyone to see the Stanley Cup, touch the prized trophy and get a candid shot as the coach walked by, beaming.

At 5PM on Tuesday, July 4, Peter and his Dad, also named Peter, took the Stanley Cup to the Norton Country Club in nearby Norton, Massachusetts, where Peter Sr. works. Opened originally as a 9-hole course in 1955, the public golf course was expanded to 18 holes in 1988; 11 of which feature water hazards. There was no hazard for club members on this evening, though, as all had been invited to celebrate Peter Jr.'s win and got their picture taken with the prized hockey trophy. At 8 o'clock, the Laviolettes took the Stanley Cup upstairs for a private party. The Carolina coach removed the foil and wire from a beautiful big bottle of champagne, and using his thumbs, popped the cork, being careful to avoid getting the surging bubbly on his clothes. "Here you go," he enticed the room, pouring the Dom Perignon into the bowl of the Cup. "Come get a drink from Lord Stanley's Mug!" Each, in turn, took a sip of the elixir of champions, while a grinning Laviolette tipped the Cup for the celebrants.

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Join us again on Tuesday, as the Stanley Cup travels with Carolina's trainer Wally Tatomir.

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Kevin Shea is the co-author of the upcoming biography, 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind The Cup,'
to be published in October 2006 by Fenn Publishing. He is also Editor of Publications
and On-Line Features at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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