EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Benoit Desrosier’s arrival as an assistant coach for the New York Islanders means that head coach Patrick Roy doesn’t have as much room to animatedly pace up and down his team’s bench on game night, but he’s more than OK with that.
Following more than a week of speculation, the Islanders made the hiring of the 35-year-old Desrosiers official on Friday where he reunites with Roy after working under him as an assistant for the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts from 2018-2023.
“He deserved this. We’ve been working five years together, we won a Memorial Cup together,” Roy said of Desrosier. “He’s young, but he’s a smart hockey guy.”
Desrosiers had been an assistant at the junior level for 11 years, which included that half-decade with Roy and a Memorial Cup title — the top team across Canada’s major junior leagues — in 2022-23.
“That team was a rig,” Islanders All-Star winger Mathew Barzal, who watched that Remparts team dispose of his former junior club, the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds in the Memorial Cup Final, said. “That team was not going to be stopped.”
While Roy stepped down following the season, Desrosiers earned his first-ever head-coaching gig with the QMJHL’s Gatineau Oympiques. He remained in the role for less than one year after Roy came calling to join him in the NHL where he’ll also work with fellow assistants Doug Houda and John MacLean.
“I was very impressed with his knowledge, his delivery, and his personality,” Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “He’s very upbeat and [Desrosiers and Roy] certainly worked well together, they’ve had success together… It’s a no-brainer.”
“He’s an extension to our coaching staff… He’s going to fit perfectly,” Roy added. “I love the chemistry that [the assistants and I] have… We don’t always agree on everything, but once we close that door to go on the ice, we’re all on the same page and that’s the fun part of this relationship.
With the Islanders, Desrosiers will work on the defensive side of the puck — specifically on face-offs and the penalty kill alongside Houda.
“Face-offs are a big part of the game today,” Roy said. “Winning, losing, D-zone, O-zone, you could give up a goal because of a face-off and if you don’t have the proper structure. You could score a goal… So face-offs are a very important part of the game.