The New York Islanders have just picked up their most established head coach since Al Arbour. The team announced on Thursday that they have hired Barry Trotz as their next head coach
“Barry brings to the New York Islanders franchise a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and success,” Islanders president and acting general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “He is and has been one of the top coaches in the National Hockey League. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with him.”
The 55-year-old resigned as Washington Capitals head coach on Monday shortly after winning the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup with a five-game triumph over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
His future in the city was in jeopardy had he not won a Cup after three-straight 100-plus seasons and two President’s Trophies failed to yield a championship, but the fourth time turned out to be a charm as the Capitals accrued 105 points and won the Metropolitan Division for a third-straight year before their run to Lord Stanley’s holy grail. As Trotz hoisted the Stanley Cup, his contract was believed to had expired.
But what was unbeknownst to all was that he had a two-year extension clause that kicked in had he won a championship, which he did. It still was not enough as he is now on the cusp of his third head-coaching gig in the NHL.
Trotz was the original head coach of the Nashville Predators from their expansion season in 1998 to 2014 before joining the Capitals. He ranks fifth on the NHL’s all-time list of wins by a head coach with 762, just 20 behind the Islanders legend Arbour, who was the man behind the bench for the franchise’s dynastic run of four-straight championships from 1980-1983.
This is a franchise-altering move for the Islanders made by Lou Lamoriello, who fired head coach Doug Weight and GM Garth Snow just two weeks after he was hired at the end of May.
Snow became the face of the Islanders’ struggles during his 12 seasons in the front office. For a franchise mired in mediocrity for a majority of the 35 years since its Stanley Cup days, his inactivity in creating a legitimate contender around captain John Tavares saw him quickly and dramatically fall out of favor with the team and its fans over the past year. Especially when he was quiet during the 2018 trade deadline that saw him pass on acquiring a legitimate blueliner to help out the league’s worst defense despite the Islanders possessing one of the NHL’s top attacks.
It was clear during his year-plus stint as head coach that Weight was not ready to carry the burden of a struggling team and adapt on the fly in order to get the most out of a roster that simply was not good enough to compete for a playoff spot.
But the hiring of the Hall-of-Famer Lamoriello, who won three Stanley Cups running the New Jersey Devils, has brought a culture change to the Islanders that has not been seen by a sizeable bulk of its fan base. Instead of a team being stuck in neutral and acting like a small-market franchise, Lamoriello is now on the verge of acquiring the best head coach available on the market.
And Trotz will bring something that the Islanders have never had before in a new head coach.
Should the deal be completed, Trotz will become the first man to take the team’s head coaching job with over 350 games of experience and with a Stanley Cup to his name.
Now comes the next step of securing Tavares for the rest of his career. The stability that Trotz brings though will only help that hope for the Islanders turn into a reality.