Photo: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire
Since Barry Trotz coached the Islanders for three excellent seasons, his teams participated in 36 postseason games, good for fourth in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (42), Dallas Stars (40) and St. Louis Blues (39).
The Islanders will get to play at least 40 more as they will face the Boston Bruins in the second round of the East Division series that starts on Saturday night at the TD Garden. It is the third straight season they advanced to the second round.
Talk about the players all you want for being the reason why the Islanders have been good. They deserve the praise for their contributions in the playoffs over the years, specifically Brock Nelson, Thomas Hickey, Anders Lee, Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Jordan Eberle.
But the MVP of this hockey team is Trotz. He serves as a sauce that makes things go for this hockey team. He knows what he is doing on the bench. He gets his team prepared every game. It’s hard to come up in a game that the team was never prepared for. He hits the right notes in getting what he wants out of his players. He receives results. His coaching is why the Islanders are in a position to win the Stanley Cup. He and his coaching staff play an integral role in why the Islanders are a perennial playoff team.
I still wonder to myself how the Islanders got a coach of Trotz’s caliber. I still can’t believe the Islanders hired a head coach coming off a Stanley Cup championship. This is a franchise that treated its head coaching job as an entry-level job for two decades by hiring neophyte coaches such as Bill Stewart, Steve Stirling and Scott Gordon that had no business coaching in the NHL. They got the job since they were cheap, not because they were promising.
When the Islanders hired Trotz and Lou Lamoriello as the general manager, Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin showed they meant business. They were about winning by hiring people of credibility. They hired culture changers that would bring professionalism to this organization again.
Both are in a position to one day be honored at the new UBS Arena, which opens up this fall as the new Islanders home arena. Trotz could be in a position where the Islanders could unveil a statue of him one day, especially if he wins the Stanley Cup.
The 58-year-old hockey coach could finish his likely Hall of Fame coaching career on the Island. Ownership, Lamoriello and the players love him. The fans worship him. He doesn’t seem burned out yet, and he hasn’t lost his players. Maybe it sounds premature but he seems to be the coach that has the pulse of his players in a sense his message never seems stale.
Here’s what I love about Trotz: He never takes himself seriously. He has fun at his job. He conducts himself with so much class. Every time he speaks in the press conferences, it comes off like a sermon.
Too many coaches in sports act like they are bigger than the game. Most are not shy to act like they invented the game. Trotz can do that if he wanted to, but he has class to do that.
Think of Trotz as Bruce Arians. Both are so likable and easy to root for.
Yes, Trotz won the Stanley Cup, but it would be special if he wins his second Stanley Cup as an Islanders head coach. He is everything that is right about hockey. He paid his dues to be an NHL head coach by toiling in the minors all these years until the expansion Nashville Predators gave him his break to be their very first head coach. He has so much integrity in having his guys play the right way.
His imprints are all over this Islanders team when it comes to playing defense and being resilient. This Islanders team never stays out of character when things got tough. They just keep playing. They fit his image in the sense they are so composed and disciplined when they are playing.
There’s no denying he plays a role in this team’s success.
He is the sauce that makes everything great.