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Barry Trotz named Islanders head coach

Official announcement puts the reigning Stanley Cup winner behind New York’s bench.

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
The object is to win the thing.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The news many New York Islanders fans have been waiting for this week is here: Barry Trotz is expected to be named the team’s next head coach. [UPDATE: It’s official.]

From the Islanders’ official announcement:

“Barry brings to the New York Islanders franchise a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and success,” said Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello. “He is and has been one of the top coaches in the National Hockey League. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with him.”

National insiders like Elliotte Friedman, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun were tweeting the news and adding on to each other’s reports late morning on Thursday. An official announcement was out by early afternoon.

For the Twitter-blocked, that’s Elliotte Friedman saying the “word in Dallas” is a five-year deal of over $4 million per year, which isn’t really important to us other than as a demonstration that the Islanders and Lamoriello are willing to go to the top tier of coaching compensation to get their man. And Islanders beatwriter Arthur Staple landing in Dallas to say it’s “not official but it’s confirmed,” which is to say bank on it, just don’t expect a pretty announcement just yet.

The story of how we got to here is well-known by now: Trotz and the Washington Capitals went into the season without a contract extension in place, and with recently promoted associate coach Todd Reirden reared as his likely replacement if the Capitals again failed to reach the promised land.

But then Trotz and the Capitals went and reached that land, winning the Stanley Cup and triggering a previously unreported extension clause in his contract. Except that extension clause contained only a modest raise and two-year term — not the kind of compensation or commitment a Stanley Cup-winning coach can now command on the open market.

With the Capitals having a replacement in mind anyway, and with Trotz knowing they didn’t believe in him so much that they’d come off that two-year plan, a divorce made sense.

Especially with Lou Lamoriello creating an opening at head coach in Brooklyn.

So here we go. He’s a winning coach with a long track record. He’s had a history of playoff frustrations — that’s the playoffs, only one team wins, only four teams get past the second round — and the usual Old School Coach complaints. But he’s also now won a Stanley Cup. And done a lot of winning.

Suddenly, the Islanders have added their first truly established NHL coach since Ted Nolan, their first bona fide winner since Al Arbour.

Let that sink in.