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Peter Laviolette says having good players has helped lead to his longevity

MONTREAL - Peter Laviolette says hitting the milestone of 300 games behind the Carolina Hurricanes bench is as much about good players as good coaching.

Laviolette, who took the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006, coached his 300th game for the team Tuesday night, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

"We haven't always got what we wanted here in Carolina - we missed the playoffs the last couple of years - but we do have some good players and they compete," the 43-year-old coach said. "A lot of times the longevity of a coach is determined by how good his team is and we've had a pretty good team here in Carolina.

"To be honest, you never know how long it's going to last. It could be a quick stint, one year and out, and you may never get back in again. I've been very fortunate to have good organizations, good teams and we've won some games. Because of that, I have the good fortune of being able to coach in this league."

Laviolette is sixth in years of service with the same team in the league, behind Lindy Ruff of Buffalo, Barry Trotz of Nashville, Jacques Lemaire of Minnesota, Craig MacTavish of Edmonton and Dave Tippett of Dallas.

Last week, the Norwood, Mass., native moved past Bob Johnson (235) into second place in career NHL wins by a U.S.-born coach and is closing in on John Tortorella's record of 239.

Laviolette joined the Hurricanes in December 2003. Previously, he spent two seasons as head coach of the New York Islanders and was an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins. Before that, he coached Boston's farm team to an AHL championship.

He is one of only three American-born coaches in the NHL along with Scott Gordon of the Islanders and Tony Granato of the Colorado Avalanche.

It seems that producing coaches has been slower than turning out players.

"I think it's changing a bit," said Laviolette. "There are more now becoming involved in the ECHL and the AHL.

"A lot of times, that's the road you go through. I know Scott Gordon did that because I coached against him in the E. And I think the number of American coaches is probably far greater than years ago, same as players."

Scotty Bowman, the Montreal native who won 1,244 NHL games, said Canada's junior leagues are a key source of coaches and that the path may be more difficult for Americans.

"The college jobs (in the U.S.) are pretty good," said Bowman. "If you get a good college job, like Red Berenson's in Michigan, he's been there over 20 years, they're good because they're usually more secure.

"It's tough to go from college to the NHL. You have to go in the AHL, but to go from college to the AHL is a bit of a gamble."

Bowman was in town Tuesday to attend the unveiling of the head coaches section of Builders' Row at the Bell Centre as part of their 100th anniversary celebrations.



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