Islanders already feeding off Patrick Roy’s energy: ‘I think it hit everybody right on the forehead’

Patrick Roy Islanders
Patrick Roy following his first skate with the Islanders, Jan. 21, 2024. (Joe Pantorno/AMNY)

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Mathew Barzal admitted that lately, it felt like his New York Islanders were just treading water under Lane Lambert. In dire need of a boost having lost 10 of their last 12 games and on a four-game losing streak entering Sunday night’s play, they’ve sunk toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

“Our last four games we’ve been completely discombobulated,” Barzal said. “We have to get back on track.”

Team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello did the most drastic thing a team can do in times like this: He fired Lambert and brought in Hall-of-Fame goaltender and former Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy.

Challenge accepted.

“I love the challenge and I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be here,” Roy said on Sunday after meeting his players for the first time ahead of their clash with the Dallas Stars later that night. “Yes, I would love to bring my passion to the team and bring some excitement and use my past experiences as a player and maybe as a coach to help this group of players.”

A coaching change is a big enough jolt to the system of a team in need of a spark, but bringing in a player of Roy’s standing — one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, a four-time Stanley Cup winner, and a three-time Vezina Trophy winner — it provides an even larger punch.

“When Patrick Roy says it, it has a little more oomph behind it,” Barzal said. “He’s a guy in the hockey world that has immediate respect… The nice thing is that he’s been through everything. He’s won everything.

“His knowledge, you can’t teach it unless you’ve gone through those things. He’s bringing a ton of passion and intensity… I think he’s going to be great. I don’t think they could’ve hired a better guy to come in here and revamp the group.”

Islanders Rangers Anders Lee GWG
Mathew Barzal (right) celebrates with Islanders teammates. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Roy has always been known for his bravado whether that be during his playing days or when he was behind the bench with the Avalanche. When he retired, he joined the coaching ranks with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), spending 13 years across two stints (2005-2013, 2018-2023) — the break coming when he coached the Avalanche from 2013-2016.

While he won the Jack Adams Award in 2014 for NHL Coach of the Year, he won two Memorial Cups with Quebec, including one in 2023 where his Remparts defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds, which just so happened to be Barzal’s former junior club. 

It might have been disappointing for the Islanders’ All-Star playmaker to see his former side go down, but it was another reminder of the vigor that Roy coaches with — and what will now permeate New York’s ranks over the final 37 games of the season with the playoffs still very much in reach.

“[His team] was a rig. That team was not going to be stopped,” Barzal said. “So his message today was loud and clear and I think it hit everybody right on the forehead… You hadn’t heard Patrick’s name. He’s been out of the NHL for a little bit… He walked right into today full of passion, full of excitement, and I absolutely loved it. I think everybody in this room loved it… I think that passion from him is going to translate onto the ice.”

What was that message? Belief.

“Believing in ourselves and believing in this group,” center Bo Horvat said. “We have to do this together. It’s not going to be one guy that’s going to carry us. It’s going to be everybody. 

For more on the Islanders and Patrick Roy, visit AMNY.com