*** Editor’s Note – This article was written by Sophie Flink. She is a new found Islanders fan – and I will say she did a great job. You will be seeing her on Isles Talk in the future. ***
By Sophie Flink
As the Islanders head into the new season with a new head staff and without their star player, all eyes are on Barry Trotz, the new head coach. Fresh off his Stanley Cup victory with the Washington Capitals, many hope that the seasoned coach and former NHL player can finally help the Islanders achieve the goal that has eluded them for the past two seasons; making the playoffs.
During his 30 years as a coach, Trotz has received lots of recognition. He won the Jack Adams Trophy (2015-2016) and has been named AHL Coach of the Year (1994-1995). He also ranks third all-time in NHL history in both games coached (1,196) and wins (557) with a single franchise (Nashville Predators). While all of his accomplishments are impressive and make him seem like a promising leader, what really counts is if he can turn the team around and transform them from a subpar team into a playoff team.
According past players and colleagues what makes Trotz such a good coach is his belief in accountability. “In my case,” said former player Andrew Burnette, now an analyst in the Minnesota Wild organization, “I needed that. Either through ice time, back then we had longer practices and he’d get you after practice, he held you accountable that … he’d give you a little slap in the butt when you needed one. I think he taught me how to be a pro. He taught us what work ethic is and how hard.” Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson played for Barry Trotz on the Portland Pirates and says he modeled his coaching style after Trotz’s. “Barry had a very big influence on me because I thought that his coaching style was fair and honest and he held us accountable” says Nelson.
Even Trotz himself has spoke of his belief in players being accountable. “Being a pro is on and off the ice,” Trotz said. “It’s how you treat people, how you act, how you handle discipline. It’s human nature for guys. It’s difficult to try to something the easier way. It’s fighting through the resistance so it becomes easy. Sometimes players and people don’t recognize that. Everybody’s different. You can’t put everybody in a box. But you can put them in a framework as a group.”
Hopefully Barry Trotz’s extensive years on and off the ice combined with his positive attitude and call for player accountability will get the Islanders in playoff shape for the 2018-2019 season.