Right about now, Barry Trotz is wondering whether the author of the phrase “What have you done for us lately?’’ had the longtime NHL coach in mind.
Trotz is the third winningest coach in NHL history, trailing only Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville. He is a cinch for the Hall of Fame. And yet, like Rodney Dangerfield, he gets no respect.
He won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Caps in 2018 and when he asked to be rewarded for the achievement with a salary bump, the Caps responded with a job dump and invited him to seek employment elsewhere.
He quickly was scooped up by the New York Islanders and turned the team around quickly. He took over the Isles after the team had allowed the most goals in the league and in his first season, they allowed the fewest goals in the league and swept Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.
In his second and third seasons, he took the Islanders to the Stanley Cup semifinals before losing to Cup champion Tampa Bay. Both were crazy-quilt seasons because of the COVID pandemic but Trotz kept the Islanders in the Cup chase.
That brings us to this season and with the Islanders’ spiffy new UBS Arena not ready for the puck to be dropped, Trotz’s team was forced to start the schedule on a 13-game road trip. That put the Islanders behind the eight-ball and they never quite recovered. COVID spread through the roster from time to time and games were postponed and rescheduled at a dizzying pace.
All of this should have put management in the coach’s corner. It did not. When it was over, the Islanders were out of the playoffs and Trotz was out of a job. The same people who signed off on starting the season with a 13-game road trip, fired the coach. Never mind that his Islander teams logged a record of 152-102-34 in his four seasons there. The front office decided the team needed a new voice in the dressing room.
Goodbye Barry Trotz.
Don’t worry about him. He will take his resume of 914 career victories to another venue and he will be successful because he is a very good coach. And the Islanders, with that new voice in the dressing room, will try to produce positive results in their fancy new building.
And by the way, coach Trotz. What have you done for us lately?