Islanders fire Barry Trotz as Lou Lamoriello says ‘new voice’ needed

As a disappointing Islanders season beset with scheduling and COVID-19 hurdles until its inevitable conclusion with the team’s first playoff miss since 2018, Barry Trotz began to describe it as ” weird”.

Equally odd was President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello’s decision on Monday to relieve Trotz of his coaching duties after four seasons, only one of which was unaffected by the pandemic.

“It will be a huge understatement to say it was not an easy decision to make,” Lamoriello said on a conference call. “Unfortunately, it was my role to make the best decisions for the future of the organization. And I believe this group of players needs a new voice.

Lamoriello added that there is no timeline for hiring a new coach and, currently, all of Trotz’s staff — associate coach Lane Lambert, assistant coaches John Gruden and manager Jim Hiller goalkeeper Mitch Korn and goalkeeper coach Piero Greco – remains under contract.

Lamoriello said he could not answer what kind of “new voice” the Islanders needed, nor would he detail why he believed the Islanders needed it.

“Any kind of decision like this doesn’t happen overnight, it’s over a period of time,” Lamoriello said. “Certainly, all the extenuating circumstances that have occurred this year, beyond the control of anyone or anyone, are taken into consideration. But I prefer not to go into the reasons because it is my job based on the information at my disposal and I have the experience to make these types of decisions.

Lamoriello, just under a month after joining the Islanders, signed Trotz on June 21, 2018, shortly after guiding the Capitals to that organization’s first Stanley Cup.

Trotz, who turns 60 on July 15, was 152-102-34 in four seasons with the Islanders. Trotz began his NHL career with the expansion Predators in 1998 and coached 15 seasons in Nashville before four in Washington. He has a career record of 914-670-60-168 in 1,812 games. Trotz is trailing only Scotty Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969) in NHL coaching wins and only Bowman (2,141) in games coached.

In Trotz’s first season, the Islanders went from having the most NHL goals in at least 2017-18, and the team swept the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs before being swept by the Hurricanes. .

Trotz then led the Islanders to back-to-back NHL semi-final appearances, losing twice to eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning. Those two seasons were cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2020 playoffs were held in playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton in August and September.

This season began with a franchise-record 13-game road trip as construction of UBS Arena was completed. COVID-19 outbreaks beginning in mid-November led to a series of postponements and rescheduled games, leaving the Islanders with long stretches without games in December and early January before pressing 17 games in March and 16 in April.

Trotz missed three games around New Years – Lambert replacing him behind the bench – after his mother died, then he tested positive for COVID-19.

“I think we can all always deal with something different after the fact,” Lamoriello said. “This whole decision hasn’t been made primarily this season.”

There were other factors that may have factored into Lamoriello’s decision.

Trotz was thought to be entering the final season of his contract, although Lamoriello, when questioned directly, said that played no part in Trotz’s dismissal.

There are other jobs available in the NHL, including the Winnipeg Jets. Trotz grew up in Dauphin, Manitoba, and his widowed father still lives there.

As for the team he’s leaving, Lamoriello said the core Islanders need to respond to Trotz’s shot.

“They’re on notice right now that the new voice is what’s needed for us to be successful,” Lamoriello said. “My opinion is who should make these decisions.”

“We would like to improve our defense, if we can. If there’s a way to get a hockey deal with our forwards, we’ll do it. What we need to do is improve our young players and also have a fuller year of some of our veterans than we have had this year.

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