The New York Islanders are the latest NHL team to hire a new head coach this offseason with their big-name appointment on Thursday, June 21.
The Islanders handed veteran bench boss Barry Trotz the reins three days after his surprising resignation from the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Trotz, 55, will replace former player Doug Weight behind the Islanders’ bench in the latest of recently hired general manager Lou Lamoriello’s sweeping changes.
New York is reportedly paying Trotz $4 million per season over a five-year contract. His previous four-year deal expired after 2017/18, but since he won the Cup, he had an additional two years added. It was reported that he and the Capitals are said to have been far apart on salary talks before they parted ways.
A new direction
Front office adjustments were arguably inevitable for the Islanders this summer after the team missed the playoffs for the second straight year and for the eighth time in 11 seasons. In addition to Weight, the Islanders also showed longtime general manager Garth Snow the door following their seventh losing campaign in his 12 years at the helm.
New York also hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1983, when they earned their fourth consecutive title. What better way to instill a mindset of victory in a mediocre franchise than to bring in a coach fresh off a championship run?
Trotz brings a defensive-minded system to a team that has struggled on the back end lately. Plus he’s got a proven track record of getting as much production as possible from his lengthy stint with the Nashville Predators. This defensive strategy worked well for him in Washington, and the Capitals’ blueline prowess helped lead them to their first Stanley Cup earlier this month.
Adding Trotz, a Winnipeg native, is also seen as an effort to convince pending free agent centerman John Tavares to re-sign.
The Islanders agreeing to build a new arena at Belmont Park after a few rough years at Barclays Center, plus hiring Lamoriello – a three-time Stanley Cup champ – are also possible moves to keep Tavares, a former first-overall pick, with the squad.
What he brings
Trotz is ranked fifth all-time in NHL coaching victories. He boasts a win-loss record of 762-568-134 with 60 ties in 1,524 games coached, plus a 55-58 playoff record.
Trotz was previously the first, and longest-serving, coach of the Predators. He left the team in 2014 after 15 years and seven playoff appearances, being replaced by current Nashville coach Peter Laviolette.
Trotz filled the void left by Adam Oates’ firing from the Capitals four years ago. In three of Trotz’s four years in Washington, the Capitals lost in the second postseason round.
Trotz also led Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2003 IIHF World Championships and a silver finish at the 2009 tournament as an assistant coach.
Before reaching the NHL ranks, Trotz coached the now-defunct Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates in the AHL. He led the Pirates to two Calder Cup finals and won a minor-league title in 1994, a decade after his coaching debut at the University of Manitoba.
Trotz also played for the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League from 1979 to 1982 before attending the AHL Hershey Bears’ training camp.
What do you think? Was hiring Barry Trotz the right hire for the Islanders? Should they have looked for a different coach instead? Have your say in the comments section below.