Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie discuss the New York Islanders' puzzling decision to send their head coach out the door.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Let's move to a non-playoff team in the New York Islanders before we wrap things up here. Firing head coach Barry Trotz, widely regarded as one of the best in the entire league and a guy who took a team that clearly lacks talent on most nights in comparison to the opposition to back-to-back conference finals, five postseason series victories I think in the last three years after missing the playoffs the previous two seasons before he came aboard.
He transformed or helped transform the New York Islanders into a Stanley Cup contender in his four seasons, and after missing the playoffs in a year where they started with a 13-game road trip didn't play a home game for six weeks, had COVID-19 ravaged them through the month of November when they were finally able to get back into their arena or back into the arena for the first time, this seems like at best puzzling move on the behalf of Lou Lamoriello who looks like he's laying all the blame for a season that had built-in excuses at the feet of one of the best coaches in the NHL.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I just want to read a quote that's been going around since this firing of Barry Trotz by Lou Lamoriello. I just want to put this out there. A shout-out to Stephen Whyno from the AP for tweeting out from that press conference, by the way.
Lou Lamoriello-- "Did I consult with anyone on this decision? The answer is no. Did I speak to the players on this decision? No. I would never even consider thinking of anything like that. The decision is on the knowledge that I have, of the experiences I've had, and going forward what I think and feel is best for this group to have success."
What the hell are you talking about? And I get it-- Lou Lamoriello, great exec, has the history, has the Stanley Cups, I understand. But to do this and not consider talking to the players about this-- because I would love to know. It's one thing if the players were just like, you know what, man, Barry Trotz is not the guy-- we need a new voice.
Even if they've had the success that they've had before, then at the very least you say, you know what, the locker room said this has to happen in order to get them to the next level-- fine, you have to do what you have to do. This just seems rather impulsive. And especially the fact that this happens in the middle of the playoffs like this.
It's weird. And it just reeks like the wrong thing, but maybe Lou ends up being right, but Barry Trotz's track record has shown otherwise. He had the natural predators as relevant as they were under him. He goes to Washington and ends up turning the Capitals into a Stanley Cup champion.
And for as long as he was with the Islanders up until this year, he had them as a competitive roster-- he had them as a competitive team. They were a game 7 away from going to the Stanley Cup Final last year. And if it weren't for that road trip to start off this year, maybe the Islanders are in the playoffs this year.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: 15th best record since the COVID, Christmas for the Islanders. So he was able to turn the season around in some ways for the Islanders.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, I have to wonder if something happened behind the scenes if Barry Trotz felt the way about certain things.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I wonder too. I wonder too about that because this is twice where we've seen Barry Trotz's run and in strange ways. I mean, you mentioned the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.
It seemed like he was gone regardless of what happened in the playoffs, and then they went ahead and won the Stanley Cup and it was like, OK, well, we got to bring the coach back, but we don't want to pay him like a Stanley Cup-winning coach, so Barry Trotz cashed in on his success and went to the Islanders for a big-ticket.
But maybe because this has happened twice, maybe it is a pattern. Maybe Barry Trotz is in some ways a little bit difficult to work with and maybe this is a power trip from Lou Lamoriello. But to suggest that the Islanders are better off today or moving forward than they were with Barry Trotz is just completely foolish because this is a guy with one of the most proven track records in the NHL.
Despite how his last two tenures years ended, he is a superb coach and someone that the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings who are looking for coaches should have circled number one. Maybe he don't want to talk to anyone else. The Winnipeg Jets would be a good spot.
Hell, I think the Seattle Kraken should be doing everything in their power to get him to Seattle because if you want to settle the ship out on the seas in Seattle, who else but Barry Trotz with a pretty talented defense board admittedly that they have. I mean, he is 10 times the coach I'd say that Dave Hakstol is.
I would be trying to do everything in my power if I have a vacancy right now to get Barry Trotz in there, because despite what talent discrepancy you're working against, Barry Trotz can make it up.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: If you are Florida and you somehow lose that first-round series to Washington, are you calling Barry Trotz?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Whoa, it's an interesting question. Maybe as much as I just pumped his tires-- to the tire pumps later, it's a different team. This Florida team is based exclusively on one thing, which is attack-minded style of play. And Barry Trotz, if there's anyone who is maybe behind the scenes poking, Lou Lamoriello would be Mat Barzal because he kind of stunts creativity to a certain degree.
So if I'm Florida maybe I'm not dying to do that, but if it's the defensive aspect, if it's structure that fails them in the first round versus Washington, maybe you got to think about something like that. I'm not really sure. But if you're unsure about your head coach, you should be sure about Barry Trotz because he can do a job for just about anyone.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's what I'm thinking, man. I'm with you. Every team that has a coaching vacancy should be up on Barry Trotz and it's my understanding that enough of them have started to reach out to Barry Trotz. And again. As I've been reiterating pretty much all day and pretty much every podcast or whatever show you've been hearing me on today because I've been on a lot of shows today.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Busy day today.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Very busy day. Barry Trotz, he was due to make $4 million from the New York Islanders next season. That, brother, securing the bag from whoever he coaches or whoever he's coaching next season. If that's what he wants to do, yeah, he's getting this bag. You know what I'm saying?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, because he would probably have to be promised more in order to take a new job because otherwise, you're just leaving money on the table, correct?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Hey, exactly.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's going to cost something to get Barry Trotz. But again, you get what you pay for with Barry Trotz, so that's probably a good thing.