The New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz on Monday, and president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said the team needs “a new voice.”
The Islanders missed the playoffs this season, finishing with 84 points (37-35-10) and missing the Eastern Conference playoff cutoff by 16 points. It was the first time in Trotz’s four seasons with the team that he did not appear in the postseason.
Lamoriello informed Trotz that the team would part ways with him on Monday morning. He said the only other people who knew about the decision were property of the Islanders, and that he didn’t consult with anyone or talk to the players about the decision.
When asked why he decided to fire Trotz, Lamoriello said, “I’d rather not go into any of the reasons,” but specified that “this decision was not primarily made this season.”
In four seasons as the team’s coach, Trotz went 152-102-34 and 28-21 in the playoffs. The Islanders had reached the third round of the playoffs in two consecutive seasons, losing both times to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Trotz Islanders’ teams were known for their tight-fisted defense, twice finishing in the top two in goals-against average. But that defense fell to seventh in the NHL this season. Offensively, Trotz’s teams did not finish higher than 21st in goals per game average during his time with the Islanders.
This season was challenging for the islanders. Like most NHL teams, they struggled with roster absences and postponements due to the omicron variant of COVID-19. They also started 13 consecutive away games when their new UBS Arena was completed. Lamoriello said he considered those circumstances 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 head coach with the Islanders, Capitals and Nashville Predators. His 914 career wins are the third-most in NHL history, behind only Joel Quenneville (969) and Scotty Bowman (1,244). Trotz is 83-79 in the playoffs and had one year left on his contract with the Islanders.
Trotz won his second career Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year in his first season with the Islanders during the 2018–19 season. He also won the trophy in 2015-16 as the Capitals’ head coach.
“I’d like to thank Barry for everything he’s done for the organization over the last four years. It would be a huge understatement to say it wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Lamoriello said, praising Trotz’s character. “This is a business decision as far as hockey and winning go.”
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 well-respected head-coaching candidate. Lamoriello said the team’s next head coach will call those assistants.
The Islanders enter the offseason with 18 players under contract and just over $12 million in salary-cap space. Lamoriello said that improving his defense with an offensive defender is a priority.
“But what we have to do is get our younger players better and get some of our veterans to have a more complete year than we did this year,” he said.
Lamoriello has now made 21 head coaching changes since becoming NHL general manager in 1987.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.
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