When the New York Islanders fired coach Barry Trotz, general manager Lou Lamoriello believed the team needed a new voice.
The same new sound is coming from inside the rooms of the same coaches.
The Islanders named Len Lambert as Trotz’s replacement on Monday, giving his longtime assistant his first head coaching job in the NHL. It took only a week from Trotz’s decision to move on, with one year remaining on his contract for the team, to conclude that Lambert was the right choice to succeed him.
“There is a new voice without question,” Lamorillo said during a virtual news conference. “That new voice is here with Lane, and of course Lane has different views on different things.”
Trotz was fired last week after the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in their four seasons behind the bench, a disappointing turn of events to open with a 13-game road trip and be hit with a string of coronavirus absences. was noticeably chalked out. Injuries.
Lamoriello said a major reason for the move was a stretch in January when Lambert took over coaching duties from Trotz, who took a leave of absence to deal with a family matter and showed impressive leadership.
“When he got the opportunity or was placed in that role, he had no questions about his decision making, no insecurities in my conversations with him, and the homework he did before making some decisions. was put on,” said the 79-year-old executive. “He was completely comfortable in his own skin to make decisions, no matter where we were and no matter what game it was.”
Lambert, 57, has served on Trotz’s staff with Nashville, Washington and New York for the past 11 years. He has a Stanley Cup ring to the Capitals title in 2018, after Trotz resigned amid a contract dispute and joined the Islanders.
Trotz was also replaced by an assistant when Todd Reardon was elevated to take over in Washington. He was relegated after two seasons and two first-round playoff exits.
Reardon, who is now on Mike Sullivan’s staff with the Pittsburgh Penguins, had no prior relationship with Trotz. Lambert began working with the Nashville Predators in 2011 under Trotz, after four seasons in Milwaukee as the coach of their American Hockey League affiliate and has been at their side ever since.
Lambert said that he spoke with Trotz twice and received his blessing.
“I spoke to Barry last week after getting the news, and he told me he was hoping I’d get the job,” Lambert said. “And then I talked to him not long ago and he used words that he was ‘thrilled’.”
Lambert said she had no mixed feelings about taking over for her former boss based on those conversations.
“We’ve worked well together over the years,” he said. “We’ve supported each other, and he’s supporting me at the moment and we have to look beyond here.”
Assistants Jim Hiller and John Gruden and goalscoring coach Piero Greco are under contract, with Lamorillo and Lambert expected to make a determination on their position in the coming weeks.
Lambert, a native of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, played in 300 NHL regular-season and playoff games in the 1980s followed by minors and many more in Europe. He went into coaching almost immediately after his playing days, becoming an assistant with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw in 2002.
Lambert remained in the Junior League, coaching Prince George for two seasons before making the leap to the AHL. The next season would be his 22nd in coaching at any level and his seventh as head coach, though certainly his first at the highest level of hockey.
“You work hard and good things happen,” he said. “I just worked hard and am ready for this potential one day of opportunity.”
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