There aren’t too many teams in professional sports that have a coach that impacts the game as much as head coach Barry Trotz does for the New York Islanders. For a guy who has never taken a shift in the NHL, Trotz has become one of the best coaches in the league, as he continues his journey with the Islanders.
Statistically, there is only one active head coach in the NHL who has more wins than Trotz and that is future Hall-of-Famer, Joel Quenneville. He was the leader for three Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cups this decade and recently became the coach of the Florida Panthers.
Respect for Trotz
While Trotz has been in New York, one of his biggest strengths is the respect players have toward him. The Islanders know that whether it is training camp or practice, if the guys don’t give their best effort, they will get limited ice time or just not play.
The Islanders have had some strong head coaches since Al Arbour, but none of them have the experience that Trotz brings. Guys like Peter Laviolette and Scott Gordon were each at the beginning of their careers and didn’t have the resume of Trotz.
They all saw him win a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals back in the 2017-18 season after numerous runs to the playoffs. A lot of time coaches get blamed for early exits in the playoffs, but Trotz was finally able to silence his critics with his first championship.
Style of Play
It doesn’t seem to matter who is in net for the Islanders under Trotz. His defensive style of coaching has been effective, as evident with Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss winning the Jennings Trophy last season for allowing the fewest goals in the league.
Even with Lehner moving on to the Blackhawks, the Islanders have had a similar performance this season from Greiss and Semyon Varlamov. Like Lehner, Varlamov was coming off a couple of weaker seasons before signing in New York.
He has been a big part of helping the growth of Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield into top defenders. He brought virtually the same team that allowed the most goals in a season to the team that allowed the fewest in 2018-19.
The Islanders brought in Mitch Korn to be the director of goaltending from Wahington and have a well-rounded coaching staff working under Trotz including another former Capitals assistant.
One of Trotz’s assistant coaches, Lane Lambert, will almost certainly get a head coaching job in the near future. He has learned from Trotz and left the Capitals to remain with his boss. Lambert was interviewed for the Anaheim Ducks coaching vacant this offseason but was not selected.
Also, Trotz has another well-respected assistant coach in Jim Hiller. He was a part of Mike Babcock’s staff north of the border with the Toronto Maple Leafs and now has fit in nicely with the Islanders and Trotz. His power play scored two big goals versus his former team in the Islanders’ 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.
Trotz was the original head coach of the Nashville Predators and is a large reason for their growth, as they have become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders year in and year out.
After he was let go from Nashville, he was hired to coach the Capitals before coming to New York. He helped the Islanders get to the second round of the playoffs last season and has led the team to their best start in over 40 years. The Islanders had a 10-game winning streak and have recorded a point in each of their past 13 games.
The Islanders will look to continue their run to start this season with their matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Following that, they will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a home and home before traveling out west for their annual trip to California.