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Trotz Shocks: Islanders relieve head coach of his duties in Monday stunner

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Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Islanders have fired Barry Trotz.

Read that again. No, I don’t understand, either.

The team announced today that they have relived Trotz of his duties about two weeks after the end of the season. The statement is short and offers no explanation.

General Manager Lou Lamoriello had a short media availability and offered little in the way of clarity, either. His full comments can be read here and should be. A few highlights:

“It would be a tremendous understatement to say that this was not an easy decision to make,” Lamoriello said in a phone conference with media after Monday’s announcement. “Unfortunately, it is my role to make the best decisions for the organization going forward. And I believe that this group of players needs a new voice. And this in no way is anything negative on Barry Trotz, who as each and every one of you knows, if you’ve had the opportunity to meet him, is a tremendous human being.”

“I think the record over these past four years speaks for itself as far as what Barry has done and we are very much appreciative to that I certainly am personally and professionally,” Lamoriello said. “These type of decisions are made for going forward, not for [looking] back, and I think that with this group we have - and they are on notice right now - that the new voice is what’s necessary for us to have success in, in my opinion.”

We’ll have more thoughts about this throughout the days and weeks ahead. We may never fully understand or come to grips with this.

Objectively speaking, Trotz is the second-best coach the Islanders have ever had. His record of 288 games, 152 wins, 102 losses and 34 OT losses is secondary to the back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals and the pride he brought back to The Island. This four year stretch has been the team’s best and most successful run since the dynasty era.

His brand of defense-focused fundamentally sound hockey in the wake of the very public free agency breakup with John Tavares was just what the franchise needed. He took a team that gave up the most goals in the NHL and made them a Jennings Trophy winner. And Islanders fans appreciated that structure and took pleasure in being the stingiest, most stifling team in the league.

In a Sports Illustrated story from his first season, Trotz could already understand what his impact meant on both the players and the fanbase.

“I think the guys have a sense of pride knowing that they can go into any place and win. We have two homes. We’re not picky.”

“They’re craving it,” Trotz says, steering away. “The Island is passionate.”

Thank you, coach. You won’t be forgotten any time soon.