“Worst decision in franchise history.” The NHL club parted ways with the best coach in the XXI century

Dmitry Storozhev

Dmitry Storozhev

New York Islanders fire coach Barry Trotz

The departure of Barry Trotz from the Islanders was even more unexpected than his arrival to Long Island.

The climax of the NHL season is in full swing as 16 of the best teams in the regular season compete for the right to lift the world’s premier hockey club trophy, the Stanley Cup, over their heads. The other 16 teams, for which the season has already ended, are slowly summing up the results of the past season and making plans for the next one. Somewhere steps have already been taken to change the situation – for example, Detroit immediately after the final game announced the parting with head coach Jeff Blashill, in which the Wings did not reach the playoffs for the past six years.

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I am sure that many Red Wings fans were sincerely happy about this – once one of the strongest clubs in the NHL in the 2010s degraded to one of the league’s biggest losers, and Blashill contributed a lot to this.

After some time, the decision to part with the head coaches was made by two more losers of the East. And if Mike Yeoh’s departure from Philadelphia was expected, then the Islanders’ announcement of the “release of duties” of Barry Trotz, who worked at the club for four years, was a real sensation.

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The 59-year-old led the Islanders on the eve of the 2018/2019 season, moving to Long Island as the current Stanley Cup holder – just a week and a half before moving to New York, he led Washington to the first championship title in franchise history. Such a move by the Canadian cannot be called anything other than shocking – Trotz, having failed to agree with the Capitals on the terms of a new contract, did not come to the Rangers, who had rushed to sign an agreement with David Quinn a month earlier, but to the club, which, after four Stanley Cups at the beginning The 1980s was constantly in the shadow of more eminent neighbors from Manhattan.

It took Trotz less than a year to change the Islanders beyond recognition – already in the first season at the helm of the Islanders, Barry won the second best coach award in his career at the end of the regular season and from fourth place led the team to the first in three years in the playoffs, while the sworn friends from the Rangers continued their steep dive.

Despite the “dry” relegation from the “Carolina” already in the second round, they looked into the future with Trotz on Long Island with optimism, which was fully justified: in the next regular season, the “islanders” under the leadership of the Canadian set the best result in the XXI century, for the first time since 1993 reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. For the Islanders, this is really an achievement: after the departure of John Tavares, there were simply no large-caliber stars left in the club – Matthew Barzal, despite the large advances, still did not reach this status, and the rest of the players never claimed it. However, the Trotz system allowed the worker-peasant composition of the “Islanders” to get into the top 4 NHL teams next year, although they were “buried” in advance at the first stage of the playoffs with Pittsburgh, and even “Boston” should have been pass without problems.

Before the start of this season, we assumed that the New Yorkers would have every chance to compete for the Stanley Cup again, while already among the main favorites. It seemed that the “islanders”, having retained several leaders with little bloodshed, would again hold the regular season in a slightly economical mode and gain design capacity directly in the playoffs. But this was not destined to come true – difficulties at the start, caused by a long road streak due to moving to a new arena, as well as an outbreak of coronavirus infection, spoiled the Islanders for most of the season.

Islands of bad luck.  The deafening failure of the “Islanders” is the main surprise of the start of the NHL season
Islands of bad luck. The deafening failure of the “Islanders” is the main surprise of the start of the NHL season

As a result, the team was 16 points behind the playoff zone and, for the first time in four years, failed to overcome the threshold of the regular season. And even so, the decision of the management of the “islanders” to part with Trotz looks strange and hasty – it is unlikely that anyone could fix the crisis in which the club from Long Island found itself.

Thus, the Canadian will no longer work out his last year under a five-year contract – in social networks, many fans are already scolding the team’s general manager Lou Lamorello for this and calling Trotz’s “release” from duties “the worst decision in the history of the franchise.” Like it or not, only time will tell, but for now, Barry can start looking for a new job – in the same “Detroit” and “Philadelphia” there will certainly be a place for him. Possibly as a leader.


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