The New York Islanders’ coaching change is easily the biggest difference in the team, thus far. Isles fans and the rest of the hockey world were shocked at the firing of Barry Trotz. We were left wondering how they could part with such a legendary hockey mind, but in my initial confusion I recalled the amount of times I found myself questioning him. That is not to say he was a bad coach, BY ANY MEANS, and the overall takeaway from his time with us is an overwhelming gratitude for essentially rescuing this franchise from eternal mediocrity. Without Trotz, we cannot tell where the Islanders would be at this point, but he certainly caused reason for concern after a time, specifically as of late. He relied heavily on our veterans, which is not a bad thing on its own, but he did so even when they proved to be the problem in a frustrating season. Chara, although a great mentor for Dobson and one of our main fighters, was an obvious weak spot in our D-core. He just couldn’t move well at all. But I mostly think of this in the amount of times we were in a crunch, and Josh Bailey was getting all the ice time. He may have been here long and scored a handful of big goals, but he is also the biggest liability on our offense, not the guy we want out there for the 6-on-5.
I think many Isles fans can agree that he was just too persistent in smothering the youth and keeping the old guard in charge. We never gave guys like Whalstrom and Bellows enough time to work through their struggles. We also couldn’t manage to score goals, even with a stellar defensive system. We simply don’t have the firepower that the Capitals did to win them a Stanley Cup in 2018 with Trotz, after many post-season appearances. Guys like Beauvillier, Palmieri, and even Barzal specifically underperformed, and that is not necessarily Trotz’ fault but something must give when the majority of the team is doing so. At the end of the day, he appeared to have lost the room. There is some speculation about what some players might have expressed in their closing meetings last season with Lou, as well. Whether we wanted it or not, Barry has moved on and Lane is our guy. So what will this team be like under him?
Lane Lambert is someone who has long-awaited his chance to take the reigns of an NHL team. After some time as a head coach in the AHL, and 11 years serving under Trotz in Nashville, Washington, D.C., and on the Island, NHL fans will finally get a glimpse of him at the helm.
Coach Lambert is a highly respected figure in the community. He is known to be a prototypical player’s coach, forming bonds with his players to get the best of them, much like Trotz did. But we need him to keep our offense fueled. His short time taking over for Trotz when he had COVID-19 (about four games) proved that he is willing to play our young guys. If the Trotz message grew stale, Lane might be the perfect “new” voice to not replace it but reignite it.
One needn’t get past the first few paragraphs of Ethan Sears’ article about him in The New York Post this summer to understand how good of a human he is. Lane’s communicating skills are unmatched. Pairing his empathy with his passion and the capability to let loose on his guys when needed, it is no wonder that he was the man for the job. He already knows the team. He has been in the game for a long time. He has a CUP. The New York Islanders are in good hands, and this season still holds a lot of potential.