Who Is Barry Trotz and What Will He Mean To The NY Islanders?
Let’s not mince words. The fact is there are currently deep holes on this roster and will remain so likely as we go into the season. We can all hope that the moves of this summer, free agents, and kids fill it. Perhaps some or all of these items can provide enough glue between those gaps, at the least.
Despite the recent Isles piece floating back in July that cites that the team will overcome the loss of John Tavares, it misses the bigger point.
They must also
compensate for the loss of a top 4 defensive defender and still do not have a surefire #1 starting goaltender. No amount of optimism or pessimism will alleviate the reality that several things will have to come together for this team to truly compete for a playoff spot this coming season (barring a late summer or early season trade). And let’s be honest…
That is a tough do at this juncture to pin hopes on.
However, there is one mitigating factor that is a boon throughout the summer and perhaps stands as the biggest difference to the Garth Snow regime to this one under Lou Lamoriello...
The gain of the highly experienced and Stanley Cup winning coach Barry Trotz.
The fact is...
The Trotz Factor DOES matter.
My issue, as cited in a previous piece, is how much the reality of this summer really puts too much emphasis and bulk on his plate to overcome.
That all said, the coach and system will be paramount for the NY Islanders this year and down the line. So it’s time to take a deep look at what those factors truly are.
Respect. Resiliency. Realism. And above all, a high sense of caring and selflessness. Those are the aspects brought up by those who have dealt with Trotz.
As Mark Willoughby
, who had written and followed Barry Trotz’s coaching with the Nashville Predators for many years, cites in his own work…
“Quietly and steadily, the resilient Barry Trotz molds realistic expectations for his team and helps them achieve their maximum potential.”
– Mark Willoughby wrote in "Long Overdue: Coach Barry Trotz of Nashville Predators Named Jack Adams Finalist"
Nashville originally had a smaller payroll than most other teams. They had a roster purge as former owner Craig Leipold was trying to sell the team, constantly creating upheaval and forcing Trotz to deal with resulting spare parts on the roster. Despite that constant turmoil and issues, Trotz was able to build a competitive team time and time again.
If this doesn’t fit the current state of the NY Islanders, I don’t know what will.
Forget the cup win in Washington. We are too entranced by their shiny cup, which the Isles team at its current state shouldn’t even be on our radar. This Isles team needs to reconfigure itself post-JT and Calvin de Haan.
The goals and points of a JT is not an easy fix, but survivable. The loss of a top 4 defensive defenseman on top is the big hit, especially when the goalie position is also a question mark.
The legacy of Trotz’s time in Nashville tells all we need to know. Per Willoughby, Trotz is “A player’s coach, a coach that was successful and got the most out of his teams.”
And adds: “His legacy as a person is far greater” in his personal experience of the man who is a selfless soul who “cared immensely bout other people”.
Well, there is no better builder than the coach we have right now.
That is something, even if there are a lot of questions and items that surround this team come camp and this coming season.
So what are the changes we might see this coming season?
- Far more defensive responsibility on the part of the NY Islanders forwards
In fact, we should see the forwards coming back more often, and clogging up the slot.
The Isles forwards might also find themselves asked to be back to clear the defensive zone and clear the puck out.
Isles Centers will be asked to do more defensively and within coverage/schemes, beyond this.
- A big onus on winning the one-on-one battles, the corners, and making sure they rule their defensive zone.
- You might see a 3rd forward high up in the offensive zone in an attempt to curtail odd man rushes coming back the other way.
- The Isles young defensemen and Isles forwards rotating when punching into the offensive zone. So when dman goes deep into the offensive zone, an Isles forward comes back up high to defend.
These are some early differences we should see come preseason. One thing that works in the Isles favor is they are a speedy team. That speed, plus some defensive balancing, should offset some deficiencies. However, the goaltenders then will have to carry their share... something that DID NOT happen last season.
So goaltending will be paramount to support this.
So the question isn't so much offsetting the loss of John Tavares, but in how Trotz meshes that new system and balance as to trim those "goals against" totals, knowing that they will score less goals overall. That IS the key.