Patrick Roy: ‘It’s playoff hockey for the Islanders from now on’ new head coach says

Patrick Roy Islanders
FILE- Quebec Remparts general manager and coach Patrick Roy announces his retirement from junior hockey, during a news conference Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. The New York Islanders fired coach Lane Lambert and replaced him with Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, President of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

It’s been seven-and-a-half years since Patrick Roy last coached an NHL game after a messy split-up with the Colorado Avalanche and the phone didn’t ring much during that time. So when Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders did come knocking, the decision was a no-brainer.

“It means a lot. When I left Colorado, I thought the phone would ring fast, but it did not,” Roy said during his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Islanders on Saturday after the team parted ways with Lane Lambert. “I understood that the way I left Colorado was probably not the best way to do things.”

A firey, impassioned bench boss as he was during his Hall-of-Fame goaltending career, Roy returned to the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he had a philosophical re-awakening. After all, the modern-day player doesn’t always respond to the hard-nosed borderline frantic tenacity that was once commonplace in the days of yore. 

It worked. His Quebec Remparts won the Memorial Cup last season — his 13th and final campaign as the team’s head coach across two stints.

“I’m proud of taking the time to go back to juniors, working with those guys, resource myself in the game, and make sure I stay on top of that different culture,” Roy said. “The player today is different than what it was in my time. It changes and you have to adjust to the younger guys. I’m very happy that I did this and I’m very happy that I received this call.” 

FILE – New York Islanders coach Lane Lambert watches from behind the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. The New York Islanders fired Lambert and replaced him with Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, President of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Roy now inherits an Islanders team that appears stuck in the mud amidst a dreadful January. They’re 2-5-2 this month and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak that was capped off by an overtime loss to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks. 

Their trademark defense has regressed. All-Star goaltender Ilya Sorokin is having his most inconsistent season between the pipes. Late-game collapses were rampant and, above all, consistency was non-existent. 

None of that matters now, according to Roy.

“Say a player has a shaky game and comes back the next day and the coach doesn’t say hi to him. That’s not who I am,” he said. “The next day is a fresh day. It’s a new day. I want to make sure the guys know that yesterday was yesterday and today is today.”

With 37 games remaining in the 2023-24 season, New York is sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Although, just one point as of Saturday night separates them from fourth in the division, six from third, and seven from second.

Slim margins, certainly, but time isn’t exactly on their side — and Roy understands that.

“That’s the challenge that’s in front of us. Let’s not kid ourselves,” he began. “We’re looking at the position we are now and we’re all going to agree: It’s playoff hockey for the Islanders from now on. Every game you pay, these are huge points.

“When you have to catch up with three, four teams in front of you, you can’t approach those games like a regular-season game. This is playoff hockey and that’s the mentality that I hope our players are willing to play.”

The Patrick Roy era on Long Island officially begins on Sunday night when the Islanders host the Dallas Stars at UBS Arena (7:30 p.m. ET).

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