In a shocking move announced Monday morning, the New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz after four seasons with the team.
“It would be a tremendous understatement to say that this was not a difficult decision to make,” Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said during a conference call Monday. “It is my role to make the best decisions for the organization going forward and I believe that this group of players needs a new voice.
“This in no way is anything negative on Barry Trotz, who as each and every one of you knows… is a tremendous human being.”
Lamoriello continued to call the move “a business decision as far as hockey and winning,” and that it wasn’t made simply based on a difficult 2021-22 season.
This season was an immensely difficult one for both Trotz and the Islanders. While the team was spread thin by a 13-game season-opening road trip, COVID outbreaks that sidelined more than half the roster, and injuries, Trotz also dealt with the loss of his mother in January.
Meanwhile, the Islanders limped to a 37-35-10 record (84 points) to finish fifth in the Metropolitan Division. It was the first time in three years the team missed the playoffs and the first time since 2014 when he was coaching the Nashville Predators that Trotz didn’t lead a team to the postseason.
There currently is no timetable for when the search for a new head coach will begin, according to Lamoriello, but the current assistant-coaching staff is still with the organization, including top assistant Lane Lambert.
Trotz, 59, was brought onto the Islanders by Lamoriello prior to the 2018-19 season in a major franchise revamp that ushered in one of the team’s most successful periods since winning four-straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983.
Trotz led the Islanders to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons with the team, including two consecutive Stanley Cup semifinal appearances against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021.
In just four seasons with the team, he went 152-102-34. ranking third in franchise history in wins and second with 28 postseason victories behind the legendary Al Arbour. He is one of only three coaches in NHL history with at least 900 wins, ranking third all-time with 914 victories with the Predators, Washington Capitals, and Islanders.
“I think the record over the past four years speaks for itself,” Lamoriello said. “We’re very appreciative of that… These types of decisions are made for going forward, not for the backward. With this group we have — and they’re on notice right now — that new voice is necessary to have success… My opinion is what makes these decisions.”