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Trotz Brings Much More Than Legitimacy to Islanders

When Lou Lamoriello signed on with the Islanders last month after being demoted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the word everyone used was “stability”;  Stability in the front office, stability on the ice, stability with the ownership.  Lamoriello made quick work to legitimize those claims, as he relieved both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties on June 5th.

As mentioned before, this week was shaping up to be the most important week in Islanders history.  Between finding a new head coach, the NHL draft, and the looming decision of potential unrestricted free agent John Tavares, the Islanders had a lot of work to do.

One of the dominoes fell earlier this week, as the Islanders were able to hire Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz as their next head coach.  Trotz comes in with a 557-479-60 record and more legitimacy than the Islanders have had at that position since Al Arbour retired.  Trotz is only the fourth Stanley Cup winning coach to leave his team after they won the Cup.  He is also the first head coach with NHL experience to be hired by the Islanders since Ted Nolan, whose tenure with the franchise seems like ages ago.

Trotz brings a fantastic track record with him, as his teams have only missed the playoffs four times in his nineteen seasons as head coach of both the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals.  He is a players coach and brings a legitimacy to the Islanders that hasn’t been seen in decades.  To think that just a month ago the Islanders had a rookie head coach and an incompetent general manager is both baffling and impressive.

Lou and Trotz bring legitimacy, but they bring something even more important;  They bring hope to a down-trodden franchise.  The Islanders have always been the second fiddle to the Rangers, and sometimes even the third fiddle depending on how well the Devils are doing.  They were a Mickey-Mouse franchise that was run more like a country club than a hockey team.  Now they’re back and regardless of John Tavares’ decision, they have hope for years to come.

John Tavares opting not to sign during the season is the best thing that could have happened to the Islanders.  Who knows if Weight and Snow would have still been here, but Tavares not signing or even promising to sign put pressure on ownership to make changes.  If Tavares had already signed an eight-year extension, the wheels might not have started turning to turn the ship around.  It most likely would have been more of the same, and we would not have a Stanley Cup winning executive and the hottest free agent coach ever.

This is a new chapter in what has been a turbulent ride as an Islanders fan.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the Islanders would get both Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.  Trotz is a player’s coach, and his focus in on defense.  With the Islanders being the worst team in the league defensively, Trotz will most definitely whip them into shape and change the mentality of this franchise.  He will make sure the Islanders play hard every shift, and will hopefully bring another Stanley Cup to Long Island.  If he doesn’t, for once you can’t say that the Islanders didn’t try.

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