In his team 4-1 win on Sunday over the Winnipeg Jets, head coach Barry Trotz passed longtime New York Islanders head coach and four-time Stanley Cup champion Al Arbour in games coached.
Trotz spent his first 15 seasons behind the bench after he became the original Nashville Predators coach and reached the playoffs seven times before being let go. He then went to the Washington Capitals for four seasons and won his first Stanley Cup in the 2017-18 season. Trotz resigned from Washington before reaching an agreement to coach the Islanders after Doug Weight was not brought back.
Sunday’s game was Trotz’s 84th with the Islanders and 1,608th of his career, which passes Arbour, who spent 1,500 of his games with the orange and blue. After coaching 1,499 games up until 1994, Arbour came out of retirement for one game to reach that 1,500th game back in 2007 and fittingly ended it with a win as he did much of his career. Former head coach Ted Nolan came up with the idea and had Arbour on his bench in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last season, Trotz eclipsed Arbour in career wins and now has 813 in his Hall-of-Fame career. He is best described as a defensive-minded coach, especially last season when he helped the Islanders go from allowing the most goals in the league to the fewest. He earned himself a Jack Adams Award for the second time in his career and coached the Islanders to a first-round sweep of the Penguins.
Back in 2018, after he passed Arbour in wins, he was extremely humbled by it all.
“You get into coaching, you talk about certain names that you have respect for,” Trotz said. “When you hear someone say, ‘Hey, you and Al Arbour,’ I feel a little out of place. It’s a total honor to be even mentioned.”Barry Trotz
He currently sits 38 games behind Joel Quenneville and will have to outlast the current Florida Panthers head coach in order to move into second place. Scotty Bowman holds the record at 2,141 games. Unlike many of the new coaches in the league in Rob Brind’Amour and Jeremy Colliton, Trotz never played in the NHL, as he was only able to make it to the American Hockey League on a tryout. That meant he had to work his way into being one of the greatest coaches of all-time after starting as an unknown.
Trots has his hands full as he begins this season, though. The Islanders didn’t add much to their roster from last season and are playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league. Both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils picked up potential superstars in the draft this summer and the Rangers added Artemi Panarin in free agency. They already are 2-0 and look to be out of their rebuild. The Carolina Hurricanes are continuing their climb to be one of the top teams in the league after their sweep of the Islanders in the second round of last season’s playoffs. Both the Capitals and Penguins are almost locks to make the postseason every year making it that much tougher for the Islanders to get back into the playoffs.
The Islanders will face Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday before going to Carolina and playing the Hurricanes on the road for the first time this season. Following that, they play the Panthers the next night and Trotz will have to decide whether he wants to play the same goalie both games or let Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss each get work in. That was something he did really well last season with Robin Lehner and Greiss as they won the Jennings Trophy.
While the Islanders have aspirations of making it further than they did a season ago, they definitely feel like they have the right guy to lead them to a fifth Stanley Cup. Wouldn’t it be cool if two of the most prolific coaches in Trotz and Arbour both brought Stanley Cups to Long Island?