After the Islanders made the shock decision to fire coach Barry Trotz on Monday morning, all eyes are on Lou Lamoriello as he begins a process that will have a huge impact on the future of the organization.
The Islanders, who ranked 21st in scoring this season, need a coach who can move the offense. They also need, as Lamoriello put it, a “new voice” – perhaps one that can relate to the younger players in the squad.
It’s hard to overstate the gravity of what happens next. Whatever happens to the Islanders in 2022-23 will come through the keyhole of Trotz and his successor, for better or for worse. As far as Lamoriello is concerned, everything is shrouded in secrecy, especially in a situation like seeking coaching. That said, here are a few candidates to watch over the next few weeks:
Joel Quenneville, free agent
Hiring Quenneville, who resigned in October after revelations about his role in the Blackhawks’ Kyle Beach scandal, would cause public outcry and require NHL approval. But Quenneville is second on the list of all-time coaching wins – one spot ahead of Barry Trotz – and Lamoriello doesn’t care an iota of public opinion.
Mike Babcock, Head Coach, University of Saskatchewan
Amid a rehabilitation project in Saskatchewan, Babcock is said to be another candidate whose hiring would bring backlash – he left the Maple Leafs job in 2019 after allegations of a toxic work environment surfaced. But he worked with Lamoriello in Toronto and has a Cup-winning pedigree.
Pete DeBoer, Head Coach, Golden Knights
If Vegas were to leave DeBoer after his own shambolic season, he could be a good fit. DeBoer coached under Lamoriello for over three seasons in New Jersey, leading the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals before missing the playoffs each following year. He’s since stopped in San Jose, taking the Sharks to the 2016 Cup Final, and Vegas.
Lane Lambert, Associate Coach, Islanders
Lambert has been Trotz’s assistant for more than a decade and replaced him when Trotz took a leave of absence in January following the death of his mother. If Lamoriello wants continuity, Lambert would be the obvious choice, but it’s a little hard to see the logic in firing Trotz just to promote his top assistant.
Paul Maurice, free agent
Trotz’s name will almost certainly be linked to the Winnipeg job, as his hometown of Dauphin is in Manitoba. It’s worth wondering if the Islanders would take a look at Maurice, who resigned from the Jets mid-season, saying he could no longer communicate with the players. One wonders if Maurice, who ranks sixth all-time in wins, would be interested in taking another job, but if so, he certainly has the pedigree required.
Brent Thompson, Head Coach, Bridgeport Islanders
Thompson has been part of the Islanders’ organization since the 2011-12 season and has been the head coach of their AHL affiliate since 2014, so it looks like he would at least get a glimpse. He has Bridgeport in the second round of the AHL playoffs after a 31-30-11 regular season.
Scott Stevens, free agent
Stevens played and coached in organizations run by Lamoriello, but quit his last assistant job with the Wild to spend more time with his family. Convincing him to come to Long Island might be an uphill battle.
Rick Tocchet, Analyst, TNT
After spending a year on television following an unsuccessful stint with the Coyotes, Tocchet may be looking to get back behind the bench with the Islanders. Whether he’s considered a viable contender after a four-season run at Arizona without a playoff spot is likely another question.
New York Post