Trotz fired as Islanders coach after four seasons

Barry Trotz was fired as coach of the New York Islanders on Monday.

The Islanders (37-35-10) missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2018, finishing 16 points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. It was the first time in four seasons under Trotz and general manager Lou Lamoriello the Islanders missed the postseason. They had reached the third round of the playoffs the previous two seasons, including a Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2021.

Trotz was 152-102-34, and 28-21 in the playoffs with the Islanders, and is a two-time winner of the Jack Adams Award voted as NHL coach of the year (2016 with Capitals, 2019 with Islanders). But Lamoriello said he believed the players needed a new voice.

“Those are not questions that I will answer as far as what I thought,” Lamoriello said. “It’s obvious that I thought quite a bit to make this type of a decision. It would be a tremendous understatement to say that this was not an easy decision to make. Unfortunately, it is my role to make the best decisions for the organization going forward and I believe that this group of players needs a new voice and this in no way is anything negative on Barry Trotz, who as each and every one of you knows is a tremendous human being. “

Trotz was hired by the Islanders on June 21, 2018 after guiding the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship since they entered the NHL in 1974. He completed the final season of a four-year contract with Washington and resigned after the sides could not agree. on an extension beyond the two years he received for winning the Cup. The 59-year-old is 914-670-168 (60 ties) in 23 NHL seasons with the Islanders, Capitals and Nashville Predators. His 1,812 regular-season games are second in NHL history to Scotty Bowman (2,141), and he’s third in wins behind Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969).

“Certainly, I think the record over these past four years speaks for itself as far as what Barry has done and we are very much appreciative of that,” Lamoriello said. “I certainly am, personally and professionally. As I said, these types of decisions are made for going forward, and I think that with this group we have, and they are on notice right now, that the new voice is what’s necessary for us to have success in my opinion. “

Injuries and COVID-19 contributed to the unraveling of the Islanders this season, beginning when defenseman Ryan Pulock sustained a lower-body injury during a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 15. The initial timeline for Pulock’s recovery was 4-6 weeks, but he did not play another game until Feb. 1. Forward Josh Bailey tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 16 and six more players – forwards Anders Lee, Casey Cizikas and Ross Johnstonand defensemen Adam Pelech, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene – were in COVID-19 protocol by Nov. 27. The Islanders finished the season without forward Cal Clutterbuck (shoulder surgery) and defenseman Scott Mayfield (lower body).

New York played the first 13 games of the season on the road (5-6-2) because the COVID-19 pandemic slowed construction of UBS Arena, and they lost 11 in a row from Nov. 7-Dec. 5 (0-8-3). Forward Brock Nelson (37) and Lee (28) were the only skaters to score at least 20 goals.

“Any type of decision like this does not happen overnight,” Lamoriello said. “It’s over a period of time and certainly all the extenuating circumstances that transpired this year, uncontrollable by everyone or anyone, is taken into consideration. But I’d rather not get into any of the reasons because that’s my job, the information that I “have and I experienced, to make these types of decisions. This is certainly a business decision as far as hockey and winning.”

Trotz was entering the final season of his contract, which Lamoriello said was not a factor. Associate Lane Lambert and assistants John Gruden and Jim Hiller are all under contract for next season and the new Islanders coach will decide on their respective futures. Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn were with Trotz when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

“That was definitely unfortunate news,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Taking a step back, I am a personal friend and a big fan of Barry Trotz. I think that’s well-documented. But I’m also a fan of Lou Lamoriello. In this business I think we all go into it with positive intentions for teams to have success.

“My point being, this is professional sports and I guess there is a little bit of a culture that you’re hired to be fired. I’ve been in an extremely fortunate situation to be with my organization for 10 years. Guys have different reasons … whatever the reason was in Lou’s mind there’s probably some reason for it.On the other side of things I think Barry is a top-flight coach in this league.If we look at it, we were probably their only stumbling block between them and probably winning some Stanley Cups. I can not comment on what goes on in their organization other than they run a first-class operation from the coach all the way up. It makes you take a step back and think about the business “times when coaches can have so much success and then they pay the price for it. But we know that going in and it’s just part of the business.”

Trotz is the third coach to be fired since the regular season ended following Jeff Blashill by the Detroit Red Wings (April 30) and Mike Yeo by the Philadelphia Flyers (May 3). The Winnipeg Jets announced May 2 they would have a coaching search and Dave Lowry, who replaced Paul Maurice as coach Dec. 17, could be interviewed for the job. The Chicago Blackhawks are conducting a search that includes Derek King, who replaced Jeremy Colliton as coach Nov. 6.

“It’s just hard to believe,” New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Surprised, obviously. I think he’s a great hand. He won’t be out of work long. We all know that. I’ve been there, done that. But ‘Trotzy’ will be fine.”

NHL.com independent correspondents Corey Long and Wes Crosby contributed to this report

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