The New York Islanders fired one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League. Barry Trotz is a free agent once again. The Islanders and Lou Lamoriello signed Trotz to a five-year deal right after he won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. He turned a franchise in flux around immediately.
The Islanders just watched their captain and star player John Tavares leave for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He took a young gun team to the playoffs in his first season, sweeping the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins before losing in the second round. He then took the Islanders to the Eastern Conference Finals (or whatever last year was considered) two years in a row. In a league that’s turning to star power more and more, Trotz was able to get the most out of his team year in and year out.
This season, however, the Islanders struggled. It started in the beginning when they were on the road for the first 13 games of the season. The Isles started the year out 5-6-2, and it was clear they were exhausted once they finally got him. They ended up losing 11 games in a row at the end of their “road trip” and at the beginning of their homestand. By the end of it, they were 5-10-5 and in a real hole in a Metropolitan Division that was drawing a line in the sand.
Many thought Trotz’s job could be on the line only because it’s Lou Lamoriello at the helm of the Islanders. No other reason should a head coach like Barry Trotz be available other than the stoic nature of Lou. We love Lou here in New Jersey, but it’s no secret his affinity for head coaches doesn’t really exist. He had one of the best running the bench, but one down year made it not good enough.
This is where the New Jersey Devils should jump in. They haven’t made a decision on the future of Lindy Ruff, but they already let go of Alain Nasreddine and Mark Recchi. Allow this New Jersey Devils team a chance to actually compete. The Devils have everything besides a top-tier head coach and a superstar goalie. No offense to Lindy Ruff, he’s a great developer, but he’s better suited in a front-office role if we are comparing him to Trotz.
This is the big signing the Devils need to make this season. They might have competition, but the Devils and Flyers are the only teams that can tell him he doesn’t have to move far. The money might not even matter as much to Trotz since he is going to make at least $4 million this season either way. The Devils can add years to his deal and make him the voice of the next steps to the rebuild, and hopefully, he leads this team to the promised land.
Hire Barry Trotz. Do it now, Tom Fitzgerald. There shouldn’t even be a thought in his mind. Trotz could save his job and the jobs of everyone on this team. Imagine what Trotz was able to do with Mat Barzal, Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, and Noah Dobson. Now, let him do that with the talent on the Devils roster. This is a no brainer.