No, of course Lou Lamoriello didn’t ask for his players’ permission to sack Barry Trotzare you kidding me?
But you also couldn’t be more naive if you thought that feedback obtained during players’ exit meetings did not influence the island’s top hockey captain’s decision to cut ties with the coach who brought the franchise its biggest success since the family era. .
Those meetings, according to sources familiar with the events, did not include the threat of rebellion. But we’re told that enough players — and important people — have expressed frustration with the team’s one-dimensional, safety-first, safety-last approach and the grind for an 82-game marathon in this era where top-notch skilled athletes dominate the regular class.
It is possible that these conversations validated Lamoriello’s independent analysis of the eye test rather than opening his eyes to the cracks that may have developed during this longer season.
When it comes to lamorillos and coaches, it’s never really about what has been accomplished in the past. It always comes down to whether Lamorillo believes he has a coach who can take his team to the next level. Next level always means the Stanley Cup.
Although Trotz has already won one Cup, with Washington in 2018, that was as important as Lamorillo when he fired Larry Robinson in New Jersey a year and a half after winning the 2000 Cup.
Not coincidentally, there was talk during the final weeks of the season that Trotz himself may have begun to feel the same about the situation as he came into the final year of his contract. Putting this into the marital terms, if Lamoreello had filed for divorce, Trotz would not have objected to it.
The problem, as I see it, is that Lamorillo provided Trotz with a list full of players who are supposed to grind. For goodness sake, this is the team that owns the gorgeous Matthew Barzal, but ties its literal identity to the trio of Matt Martin, Casey Sisikas and Cal Clatterbuck. It’s not as if Lamoreello just inherited the identity line. He has extended the contracts of the three members over the past 16 months.
It can’t all be about Oliver Wahlstrom (not even primarily), but islanders need to diversify. They need to add a young threat to Barzal, who will become a restricted free agent with refereeing rights after next season and is just two seasons away from unrestricted free agency. Let’s hope the B.C. native wasn’t wearing Canucks when he was growing up.
The NHL is not a development league, but are any of the islanders’ young forwards developing satisfactorily? Is this directly related to the head coach or is there more going on here? Perhaps the latter.
I get why Lamorillo left Jordan Eberle vulnerable to being called up in the expansion draft by Seattle after the wing’s disappointing performances against Lightning in both the 2020 and 2021 Cup semi-finals. But teams need players like Eberle, who score easy goals in those games even November, December and January that teams have to win in order to make the playoffs.
Islanders missed Nick Lady this year. The defending man was prone to one or two (or three) fouls in the playoffs, but could break an advance check or trap during the regular season, although he made many fouls in the later rounds of the playoffs. And if we’re on defense, the crushed decision to send Devon Toews to Colorado for a draft pick has done no good in terms of diversifying the lineup.
Lamorillo facing cap issues. That doesn’t make him unique among the NHL’s 32 general managers. But it would take a fair amount of maneuvering to reconfigure this roster, which currently includes nine attackers aged 29 or older, four of whom have modified their no-move clauses.
Can Lamorillo play for suspended free agent Johnny Goudreau? Maybe, but it won’t be easy. It probably wouldn’t be easier if the islanders hire Mike Babcock to replace Trotz.
Incidentally, Babcock is the guy who pinpointed Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to the decider matches with the Maple Leafs for reasons…? Most of the Red Wings think he was well received before he went to Toronto, where he worked under Lamoreello. Europeans, in particular, hate playing with Babcock so much that they warn potential free customers not to come to Detroit. Is this the man Lamoreello will turn to?
Joel Quinville is available, although his appointment in the wake of his involvement in Blackhawk’s coverage of the Kyle Beach scandal may bring backlash. Will that resonate with the property or fan base? Queenville must be acquitted to return behind the NHL bench by Commissioner Gary Pittman.
Louis assistant Jim Montgomery, who is recovering from alcohol abuse issues that cost him his first major NHL coaching job in Dallas in 2018-19, is a potential candidate if Lamoreello conducts a job search. General Motors definitely has its list.
But if Lamoreello prefers a high-speed style of play in 2022-23, he will have to make changes to playing individuals, not just behind the bench.