Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Islanders Fire Coach Barry Trotz After Missing Playoffs

The New York Islanders have fired coach Barry Trotz after missing the playoffs in his fourth season with the team.

More than a week after the regular season ended, general manager Lou Lamorillo made a surprise announcement on Monday. Trotz had one year left on his five-year contract.

“It would be an overwhelming understatement to say that this was not an easy decision,” Lamoriello said on a conference call. “Unfortunately it is my role to make the best decisions for the organization. … I believe this group of players needs a new voice.”

Lamoriello declined to explain the reason why he believed a new voice was needed.

Trotz coached the Islanders to playoffs in his first three years with them, eventually reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020 and 2021 before losing to the Stanley Cup-champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

A series of events outside Trotz’s control contributed to the Islanders missing out on the playoffs this year. As his new arena was coming to an end, he opened the season on a 13-game road trip and was hit with a string of coronavirus-related absences and injuries that derailed his season.

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Lamoriello said the choice to move on from Trotz was not made primarily about what happened this past season. “As far as hockey and winning is concerned, it is definitely a business decision,” he said.

Trotz joined the Islanders in the summer of 2018 after winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals earlier that year. Despite the championship, the Capitals decided not to renegotiate Trotz’s contract at the time and allowed him his release.

He coached the Nashville Predators for his first 15 seasons, helping them reach the playoffs 17 times. His 914 regular season ranks third among coaches in NHL history. Trotz can immediately become a candidate for vacancies in Philadelphia, Detroit and Winnipeg, as well as others that open because of his availability.

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The Islanders now begin a training search with the franchise in the middle of the competitive window. When asked what he was looking for a replacement for, Lamoriello said he could not answer specifically and said there was no timeline.

Lamorillo said the players had not been consulted about the firing, who only knew about the ownership, prior to reporting the news to Trotz on Monday morning. The 79-year-old executive said players are “on notice” about improving and winning next season.

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