Islanders Head Coach Suddenly Dismissed, Creating Confusion Within the NHL


The Associated Press

The Islanders, hot off of a disappointing season, shockingly dismissed Head Coach Barry Trotz.

Carter LaCorte, Contributor

The New York hockey scene has completely been on the Rangers as of late, with the team engaged in a first round matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

All of that focus has shifted, however, just recently. The Islanders, hot off of a disappointing season, shockingly dismissed Head Coach Barry Trotz. 

The general reaction was complete disbelief. Trotz was hired in 2018 when the franchise was at an all-time low. The team just missed the postseason for the second consecutive time, and star center John Tavares darted to Toronto.

Trotz, who had just won the Stanley Cup in Washington, completely changed the team’s culture by implementing a defensive-first system. 

The Islanders made the playoffs and swept the Penguins in a season where a last-place finish was expected. They followed that up by going to the third round, one away from the finals, in two consecutive years. 

This past season, however, was a difficult one. It started with a 13-game road trip thanks to the construction of the team’s new UBS Arena. Soon after, Covid-19 swept through the locker room, as the number of games missed piled up. Despite stellar goaltending, the team could never get it going, and the postseason was missed. 

Sure, this year was bad, but why fire Trotz? The details are still murky. General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who has a history of crazy coaching changes in New Jersey, was not clear on his intentions. He stated in a press conference that he thought the team needed a different voice. It was well chronicled during his tenure that the players loved Trotz and readily adapted to his system. 

The future of the team did not look great entering the offseason—now, it looks terrible. 

Because of this, the coaching options available are razor-thin. Among them are the old-school Mike Babcock and John Tortorella, who have won at the NHL level before, but are not nice on players, fans, or really anyone at all.

Joel Quenneville would be a good fit, except the three-time Stanley Cup winner was fired from Florida last year because of his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault scandal from 2010. 

Lane Lambert, Trotz’s assistant coach, could be the right fit. Lambert coached at times this season when Trotz had to deal with personal issues and Covid. However, is Lambert really a significant “change in voice?”

Where will Trotz go? Vancouver, Philadelphia, and his hometown of Winnipeg all need coaches. His reputation is so good that Trotz could get the job anywhere he wants. The pressure is now on Lamoriello to fix the Islanders’ roster. 

If he cannot do it, then the 79-year-old could be on the way out as well.