We will start the week with a local hockey bombshell.
Barry Trotz has gotten the sack. The Islanders axed the Stanley Cup-winning coach on Monday morning after four seasons. The news came in an unceremonious one-sentence tweet because that’s how Isles emperor Lou Lamoriello operates.
The Isles missed the playoffs this season for myriad reasons. But they qualified in Trotz’s first three years, including back-to-back appearances in the conference finals in 2020 and ’21. And Trotz, the third-winningest coach in NHL history, was believed to be under contract for another season.
Lamoriello has a long and storied history of firing coaches — the man axed Robbie Ftorek as Devils coach a few weeks before the playoffs in 2000 and then won the Stanley Cup with Larry Robinson — but this one is still a head-scratcher. Trotz was extremely popular and the Isles experienced more success under him than they had in decades. But then again, the guy won a title with the Washington Capitals and then they didn’t bring him back.
The big question now is where Lamoriello goes next. Could he make himself the coach? He served as the Devils‘ interim a few times back in the day. He’s also going to be 80 in October. WFAN’s Boomer Esiason — the father-in-law of Isles winger Matt Martin — speculated on-air this could be a move to facilitate the promotion of assistant coach Lane Lambert.
There is also the matter of what Trotz does next. He figures to be in high demand, and there are likely teams that would consider firing their coach now in order to make a run. The main thought around here: Would the Devils dump Lindy Ruff now? They are widely irrelevant and have stunk for the better part of a decade. Trotz has won everywhere he’s gone and would provide a much-needed shot of energy and excitement. It’s too obvious, right?
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]