Islanders fire Barry Trotz after four dizzying seasons

Lou Lamoriello showed his commitment to the Islanders’ aging core by sticking to the trade deadline in March.

But all year, when asked about head coach Barry Trotz’s contract – which expired at the end of the 2022-23 season – Lamoriello objected. And on Monday morning, in a stunning move, Lamoriello fired former award winner Jack Adams in a tacit admission that something had to change after a season in which the Islanders failed to meet their pre- Stanley Cup season.

“I believe this group of players needs a new voice,” Lamoriello said on a media conference call. “It’s not negative for Barry Trotz. He’s a wonderful human being.”

As for the assistant coaches – a group that includes associate coach Lane Lambert and goaltending coach Mitch Korn, people who worked with Trotz for a long time – Lamoriello would only say they were under contract for the season. next, although the new coach will have a say in whether that remains the case. Lamoriello has not committed to a rental schedule.

Barry Trotz was fired by the Islanders on May 9, 2022.
PA

Lamoriello informed Trotz of the decision Monday morning after speaking with owner Jon Ledecky. The players have not been involved in the process, although Lamoriello expects them to consider it.

“These types of decisions are made moving forward, not backwards,” he said. “The team is on notice right now that the new voice is what is needed for us to be successful in my opinion.”

Lamoriello did not discuss the reasons for the dismissal, saying only that it is his job to do what is best for the organization. It’s far from the first time he’s made the surprise decision to step down as head coach – in 2000, when he was the Devils’ general manager, Lamoriello fired Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the season and hired Larry Robinson, who went on to win the Stanley Cup with the franchise. Seven years later, Lamoriello fired Claude Julien with three games left in the season and the Devils holding the best record in the East.

As for priorities this offseason, Lamoriello said improving the blue line from an offensive standpoint, and potentially a hockey trade involving forwards, would be on the table.

From the start, the Islanders’ season went horribly wrong. The team began with a 13-game, five-week road trip, followed by a COVID-19 outbreak that rocked the team as UBS Arena opened. They never fully recovered and only had a dazzling impact on the playoff run, finishing with a mediocre 37-35-10 record. At one point amid a frantic second-half schedule to make up for their COVID-induced postponements, Trotz said the season was “mentally draining.”

After the final game of the season, a loss to Tampa Bay in which the Islanders lost a third-period lead, Trotz called it “the weirdest season I’ve ever been in,” but n left no clue that he knew his fate.

“It’s hockey and that group — a lot of it — should be back next year, but there’s always change,” said Trotz, who was 152-102-34. in the regular season with the Islanders. “And wherever that change is, then it will be a new group, just with a few changes. And I hope this group has played a lot of hockey, a lot of big games lately, the last two years. And I hope this summer will be a summer to reflect, a summer to recharge.

“The NHL can humiliate you. We have been humbled this year.

Barry Trotz
Barry Trotz
USA TODAY Sports

While these external factors played a role, the Islanders also struggled to live up to their potential on the ice. Trotz’s defensive style, which had served them so well in the past, faltered, as the Islanders struggled to score and relied too heavily on goaltender Ilya Sorokin, too often.

The core of the team is one of the oldest in the league and – after a second straight run to the NHL Semi-Finals in 2021 – the Islanders are contractually committed to keeping it virtually intact. This creates an urgency to win now.

If Lamoriello decided something needed to change after the failed playoffs, it follows that the factor he could control would be the coaching staff.

Still, Trotz is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the sport, and the Islanders’ struggles this season were partly out of his hands. There should be no shortage of demand for Trotz’s services this offseason.

He is a Stanley Cup winning coach, who quit his last job after winning the Capitals championship. This outing isn’t quite as stunning, but its ramifications will reverberate across Long Island for months to come.

Lamoriello now has a franchise switch decision on his hands as he seeks to hire a new coach who will enter a pressure cooker of expectations.

The Islanders finished well outside the playoff bracket this season. In 2022-23, however, their goal will be the same as this year: to win the Stanley Cup.

Lamoriello has just put down the marker. And it is now on his shoulders to deliver.

— Additional reporting by Jenna Lemoncelli

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