Lane Lambert was named head coach of the New York Islanders on Monday.
The 57-year-old hockey player takes over from Barry Trotz, who was fired on 9 May. This will be Lambert’s first time as head coach in the NHL, having served as an associate manager with the Islanders for the past four seasons. He won the Stanley Cup as Trots’ assistant manager with the Washington Capitals in 2018.
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Lambert spoke with Trots last week and their discussion encouraged him to take the job.
“He told me he was thrilled for me,” Lambert said. There’s not a great mix of emotions there due to the conversations I’ve had with Barry since the end of the season. We have worked well together over the years. We supported each other and he now supports me. We need to look ahead. “
Lambert coached the Islanders for three games this season when Trotz passed the COVID-19 protocol and attended his mother’s funeral in Manitoba. Below him, the Islanders scored a perfect 3-0-0 from 1 to 17 January.
“I was extremely impressed with the way he handled each situation,” said President and CEO Lou Lamoriello. Once the decision was made to make a coaching change, I focused on figuring out who would be the best individual to lead this team to where it needed to be. Lane, without a doubt, was at the top of this list due to the experiences I have had with him over the past four years. “
Born in Melfort, Sask., Lambert served as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators from 2011 to 2014. He was also head coach of the American Hockey League with the Milwaukee Admirals from 2007 to 2011 and assistant coach at the Islanders Academy in Bridgeport in 2006-2007. Second-round pick (25th) of the Detroit Red Wings in 1983, Lambert scored 124 points (58 goals, 66 assists) in 283 games as an NHL forward with Red Wings, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.
“It’s a good day, I’ve been preparing for it for a long time, so I’m very excited,” Lambert said. I learned so many things thanks [à Trotz]. Now it’s my turn to be head coach. We will take the summer to evaluate what we have on the pitch and will do everything we can to give this team the best chance of winning. “
Lamoriello had said he believed it was time for his team to have a new voice when New York (37-35-10) missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018, finishing 16 points behind the Capitals. Washington and the second-placed fourth ace in the Eastern Conference. It was the first time in four seasons under Trots and Lamoriello that the islanders skipped the spring meeting. They had reached the third knockout round in the previous two seasons.
“When it comes to a new voice, you have to consider that there is a huge difference between an assistant manager and a head coach,” said Lamoriello. It’s a bigger difference than people can imagine. When you are an assistant, you sometimes learn more about what you would not have done or what you would have done in certain situations. There is definitely a new rumor. Maybe I hadn’t chosen the right term. But Lane represents a new voice right now, because we’re talking about two completely different personalities between him and Barry. “
Trots was entering his final year on his contract, but Lamoriello made it clear on May 9 that he was not a factor in the decision. Trotz has twice won the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL best coach (2016 with the Capitals, 2019 with the Islanders) and went 152-102-34, 28-21 in the playoffs, with New York. Trots’ 1,812 games behind the bench in the regular season rank him second in NHL history behind Scotty Bowman (2,141), and his 914 wins in 23 seasons place him third behind Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969).
Assistants John Gruden and Jim Hiller are under contract for next season and their roles will be revised during the off-season. Goalkeeper manager Mitch Korn was with Lambert and Trotz when the Capitals lifted the Stanley Cup.
“The thing that will never change is our identity,” Lambert said. We want to be difficult to deal with. This is what represents us and we will never change it. “
Trots is one of four managers who have lost their jobs since the end of the regular season. Peter DeBoer was fired from the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, Jeff Blashill was fired from the Detroit Red Wings on April 30th, and Mike Yeo was fired from the Philadelphia Flyers on May 3rd. The Winnipeg Jets announced on May 2 that they were starting their search for a new manager, but that Dave Lowry, who took over as interim manager following the resignation of Paul Maurice on December 17, would be considered for the Work. The Chicago Blackhawks are also looking for a manager, but Derek King, who replaced Jeremy Colliton on November 6, will be among the nominees.