The New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz on Monday, with president and general manager Lou Lamoriello saying the team needs “a new voice.”
The Islanders missed the playoffs, finishing with 84 points (37-35-10) and falling short of the Eastern Conference playoff cut by 16 points. It was the first time in Trotz’s four seasons with the team that they didn’t make a postseason appearance.
Lamoriello informed Trotz that the team was parting ways with him Monday morning. He said the only other individuals that knew about the decision were Islanders ownership, and that he didn’t consult with anyone or speak to the players about the decision.
When asked why he decided to fire Trotz, Lamoriello said, “I would rather not get into any of the reasons,” but he did specify that “this decision was not primarily made on this season.”
In four seasons as the team’s coach, Trotz was 152-102-34 and 28-21 in the playoffs. The Islanders had reached the third round of the playoffs in two straight seasons, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning both times.
Trotz’s Islanders teams were known for their stingy defense, twice finishing in the top two in goals-against average. But that defense slipped to seventh in the NHL this season. Offensively, Trotz’s teams didn’t finish higher than 21st in goals per game average during his time with the Islanders.
This season was a challenging one for the Islanders. Like most NHL teams, they struggled through lineup absences and postponements due to the COVID-19 omicron variant. They also started with 13 straight road games as their new UBS Arena was completed. Lamoriello said he took those circumstances under consideration in making his decision.
Trotz, 59, joined the Islanders in 2018 after helping the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup the previous season. Overall, Trotz is 914-670-60-168 in 23 seasons as a head coach with the Islanders, Capitals and Nashville Predators. His 914 career wins are third most in NHL history, trailing just Joel Quenneville (969) and Scotty Bowman (1244). Trotz is 83-79 in the playoffs and had one year remaining on his contract with the Islanders.
Trotz won his second career Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in his first season with the Islanders during the 2018-19 season. He also won the trophy in in 2015-16 as head coach of the Capitals.
“I would like to thank Barry for everything he’s done for the organization for the last four years. It would be a tremendous understatement to say that this wasn’t an easy decision to make,” said Lamoriello, praising Trotz’s character. “This is a business decision as far as hockey and winning.”
Lamoriello now begins the search for a “new voice” for the Islanders. He said the team’s assistant coaches remain under contract, including associate coach Lane Lambert, Trotz’s longtime right-hand man and a highly regarded head-coaching candidate. Lamoriello said the next head coach will make the call on those assistants.
The Islanders enter the offseason with 18 players under contract and just over $12 million in salary-cap space. Lamoriello specified that improving his defense with an offensive-minded defenseman is a priority.
“But what we need to do is get improvement out of our younger players and a more complete year out of some of our veterans than we did this year,” he said.
Lamoriello has now made 21 head-coaching changes since becoming an NHL general manager in 1987.
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