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New York Islanders Hire Jim Hiller, Mike Babcock’s Old Power Play Coach

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This could help.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Arizona Coyotes
“Think you could go find out what they’re doing right?”
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New York Islanders have added Jim Hiller to the coaching staff, in a move that might help a power play that struggled throughout 2018-19.

Hiller was named assistant coach, a title he held the past five years under Mike Babcock during their tenure with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.

Hiller had coached the power play in Toronto, though the Islanders didn’t specify his role in their official announcement, and no other changes were announced. Scott Gomez, the lone coaching staff holdover from the Doug Weight era, coached the power play last season.

Head coach Barry Trotz discussed the power play a little in a Q&A with Arthur Staple of The Athletic this week, noting the way it performed early in the playoffs was what they had in mind:

We moved the puck a lot quicker. We had everything funneling towards the net. A guy would get a pass and instead of falling off or looking for another pass, his first instinct was get it, take a step, look to attack and if it isn’t there, move it. That was more of the stuff we were looking for during the regular season. I think it had a pretty good start in the regular season and then it hit a couple dry spells.

But that’s all putting the cart before the horse, er the announcement before the boots on the ground, er...look, we’ll see (maybe, in time) how assignments and roles shake out with the staff in the fall.

The Islanders could also be deepening their bench — no pun intended, that is literally what it means — with an eye toward the future: In that same interview, Trotz noted that he expects Lane Lambert will finally get a head NHL coaching gig one of these years, even though Anaheim chose Dallas Eakins over him this week.

Regardless, for a team whose power play struggled and was arguably one of the weaknesses that prevented their further advancement, adding a perspective like Hiller should be a good thing.