Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz Is About To Join An Exclusive Club

Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Coliseum was the 175th regular season game behind the bench for Barry Trotz since he took over as Islanders Head Coach for the 2018-19 season.  It also marked his 1,699th game as an NHL Head Coach in a career that has spanned 22 seasons.  That means that Trotz will reach a milestone on Tuesday night when the Islanders host the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum.

Trotz will become the third Head Coach in NHL history to coach in 1,700 games.

What does it mean to him?

“It means that I’m old,” joked the 58-year-old Trotz before a reporter could finish asking that question.  “I was just trying to make it through the first year in the National Hockey League as a coach.

That was the 1998-99 season when he was the first Head Coach in Nashville Predators history and finished that campaign with a record of 28-47-7.  Trotz was brought to Nashville by Predators General Manager David Poile who had been the General Manager of the Washington Capitals when Trotz was the Head Coach of the Caps’ AHL team in Baltimore.  Trotz spent 15 seasons and 1,196 games behind the Predators bench including 7 trips to the playoffs.

“It starts with the belief from the General Managers,” said Trotz.  “With David Poile allowing me through some tough times to fight through to build a culture in Nashville when I was there.”

Trotz moved on to the Washington Capitals and was hired by Owner Ted Leonsis on the same day that Brian MacLellan was promoted to General Manager.  Trotz spent four seasons in DC culminating with a Stanley Cup championship in 2017-18.  Shortly after hoisting the Stanley Cup, it was announced that Trotz wasn’t going to return to Washington and new Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello wasted little time bringing the veteran coach to Long Island.

Trotz views the success that he’s had in his career as a partnership with the General Managers that he’s worked with.

“I had that opportunity in Washington and now here on the Island,” said Trotz.  “It all starts with the people that hire you and I’ve worked for three outstanding General Managers an we’ve had a lot of victories between the three of us.”

Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz Has Compiled An Impressive Resume Of Success: 

A lot of regular season wins.

557 with the Predators, 205 with the Capitals and now 98 more with the Islanders including 15 this season as the Islanders reside in first place in the East Division heading into Tuesday night’s milestone game. Trotz has been a godsend to the Islanders since his arrival.  Along with Lamoriello and the ownership group led by Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, Trotz has helped change the culture on Long Island and has turned the Islanders into a Stanley Cup contender.

Despite hiring a coach that had just hoisted Lord Stanley, the Islanders couldn’t convince Captain John Tavares to stay with the team and he bolted to sign as a free agent with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.  Trotz worked his magic to lead the Islanders to the playoffs in 2018-19 and a first-round sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Last season, the Islanders marched through the bubble to the Eastern Conference Final falling just six wins shy of a Stanley Cup.

UNIONDALE, NY – JANUARY 21: New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz looks on from the bench during the first period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders on January 21, 2021, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

There typically isn’t a long shelf life to being an NHL Head Coach, but there is a reason why Trotz has been able to enjoy a long and successful career.

“It says a lot about Barry, his work ethic, and who he is as a person,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee.  “Anyone that has worked with him or played for him understands how genuine of a guy he is and how much everyone means to him.  From day one, he’s come in here and done everything that you would expect from a coach of his tenure and his success.  It’s been great to be a part of and kudos to him for everything that he’s accomplished and has worked so hard for.”

Barry Trotz Took The Islanders From “Worst To First” Defensively: 

Trotz has had a remarkable impact on the Islanders during his three seasons thus far on Long Island and it really begins and ends with a dramatic improvement in the Islanders keeping the puck out their own goal.

In 2017-18, the year before Trotz was hired, the Islanders gave up an NHL leading 296 goals.  With Trotz behind the bench in 2018-19, the Islanders gave up just 196, the fewest in the NHL and 100 goals less than the season before.  Trotz won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year following his first season on Long Island  He’s had a huge impact on the team collectively but also on individual players.

Take defenseman Ryan Pulock for example who had 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points during his first full NHL season in 2017-18 but he was plus/minus rating of minus 4.  After Trotz took over, Pulock had another strong offensive season with 9 goals and 28 assists for 37 points but his plus/minus improved to a plus 21.

Pulock couldn’t be happier that he’s had the chance to play for Trotz and will be on the ice for game number 1,700 on Tuesday.

“That’s a big milestone,” said Pulock.  “Not many guys can get to that point in this league.  It’s a tough league and if you don’t have success you don’t last.  He’s done a really good job throughout his career.  He’s helped my game for sure.  I think over the last three years, I’ve been able to take my game to another level, especially defensively, and obviously I give him a lot of credit for that.”

Trotz is about to enter a very small fraternity.

Scotty Bowman is number on the all-time NHL games coached list with 2,141 while current Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville is second with 1,729.  On Tuesday night, Trotz becomes the third member of the “1,700 Club” which probably didn’t seem realistic when you consider that he had a losing record in each of his first five seasons with Nashville.

“Hopefully I’ve grown as a coach over the years,” said Trotz.

I think it’s fair to say that he has.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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