I have not yet had a chance to weigh in on the recent relieving-of-duties of Barry Trotz. My initial reaction was that of shock, of course. I was pretty mad at President and GM Lou Lamoriello, and his press conference—full of non-answers, other than saying the decision was his own, as is typical of Lou—offered no comfort.
But as more information leaks out of the hockey insider underworld, it has become relatively clear that while Lou made this decision on his own, he did so probably in large part due to the conversations he had with his players over the past week. Dan and Mike pointed this out on their emergency episode (linked below), but it probably should have struck us as a little strange that all the Islanders, all at once, cleaned out their lockers the day after the season ended.
That’s weird enough, but the fact that we didn’t even hear from Lou or Barry until this past Monday probably should have clued us into something, too. Funny what we miss when (1) we’re busy with other things and (2) the parties we should be watching move silently. Lou is an expert at (2).
Still, the news is still surprising. I don’t think many of us believe that Barry had a good season this year, but certainly, we believed that he had built up enough equity to take another spin—so much so that we never even considered he’d be gone. I would have liked to see him get another chance with a tweaked roster; along with the bumps in the road throughout the season, the roster simply needed to be better. But in listening to the various insiders’ clips, it sounds like the adversity that plagued the Islanders this season widened any cracks in any relationships between players and coaches (and possibly between some players, but Elliotte Friedman wasn’t 100% clear). Lou must have felt, based on the players’ exit interviews, that the relationship had run its course.
If you’re still reading this (and I don’t blame you if you skipped right past it because it’s probably the fifteenth blurb you’ve read about this without any substantive information), well, all I can say is that I hope Lou knows what he’s doing. Because firing the best coach in the NHL, even when his message no longer hits his players the way it did in the beginning, is a bold move.
- Dan and Mike dropped an emergency episode in the wake of Trotz’s dismissal, news crazy enough to take them away from their two-week break. [LHH]
- The Islanders had a 2.5% chance of winning the lottery and moving up to third or fourth overall, but they predictably did not. They’ve had a lot of success picking mid-first round—Noah Dobson went 12th, Ryan Pulock 15th, Mathew Barzal 16th, for example—but who knows if they even make the pick themselves. [Islanders]
- Lou seemed excited to be attending the lottery remotely.
- Lou’s refrain was that his players needed a “new voice” in the locker room. Lane Lambert could be both a familiar voice, for some continuity, and a new voice. The team looked pretty good playing for him when Trotz had to step away. Also in this link, Andrew Gross reported that Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn likely will not be back, but he believes that Korn had informed Lou prior to Trotz’s firing that he wanted to retire. [Newsday]
- With their new state-of-the-art arena, the Islanders will likely host some marquee NHL events in the coming decade, like the draft or the All-Star Game (or potentially an outdoor game at Belmont Park). But Gary Bettman says that they need to finish the hotel first, which makes sense. [Newsday]
- Here’s a Weird Islander for you: Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes // What’cha gonna do . . . Anyway, Boyes was the latest guest on Talkin’ Isles, discussing the lockout-shortened 2013 season. [Islanders]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: They advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final (1980); Billy Smith shut out the Edmonton Oilers to win Game 1 of the Final (1983); the Sound Tigers changed their name (2021).
- The B-Isles jumped out to a 2-0 lead but blew it on home ice and dropped Game 1, 3-2, to the Charlotte Checkers. [B-Isles]
Last night’s Games’ 5 scores include the Hurricanes blowing out the Bruins, the Maple Leafs coming back in dramatic fashion to beat the Lightning, the Blues topping the Wild on the road, and the Kings winning in overtime on the road against the Oilers. Each winning team took a 3-2 series lead, with the Western Conference teams heading home with a chance to advance.
- The President’s Trophy–winning Florida Panthers have struggled against the Washington Capitals, largely because Washington has stifled their rush game but also because their power play has gone ice cold. [Sportsnet]
- Part of the Rangers’ struggles also pertains to their power play, which was lethal in the regular season but has been ineffective in the postseason. [NY Post]
- The intensity ramps up in the playoffs: The stakes are way higher, and you’re facing the same guys potentially seven times in a row. Not to mention, everyone’s watching. How do the officials handle all the craziness? [ESPN]
- Prior to last night’s games, the NHL held its annual draft lottery. The rules were changed this year, but the New Jersey Devils still won the second pick; the Montréal Canadiens, who finished last this season and will host the draft in July, retained the first overall pick. [NHL | NY Post | Sportsnet]
- The league yesterday announced the Vézina Trophy nominees, and they are Igor Shesterkin, Juuse Saros, and Jacob Markstrom. The award is Shesterkin’s, but Ilya Sorokin deserved a nomination. [TSN]
- Well, now the front offices’ mouths start to water. The Philadelphia Flyers need a coach, and Trotz is familiar with the division, but does he want to join them for a rebuild? [BSH]
- The Big Swed Forsb, Filip Forsberg, says his “goal is to come back” to the Nashville Predators. But he took quite the wide lap after the Predators got eliminated on home ice on Monday night. [NHL]
- Seth Jones will captain Team USA through the World Championships in Helsinki. [TSN]
- Fare thee well to Patrick Marleau, the all-time games played leader. He retired as a member of the San Jose Sharks after twenty-three seasons in the league. [NHL | ESPN]