Islanders hire longtime Trotz assistant Lambert as coach



FILE – New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, left, and assistant coach Lane Lambert stand on the bench during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 in Elmont, NY The New York Islanders have hired longtime assistant Barry Trotz and right-hand man Lane Lambert to succeed him as coach. General manager Lou Lamoriello announced Lambert as Trotz’s replacement on Monday, May 16, a week after he fired the Stanley Cup-winning coach who had one year left on his contract. (AP Photo/Jim McIsaac, File)


When the New York Islanders fired coach Barry Trotz, general manager Lou Lamoriello believed the team needed a new voice.

This new voice comes from within the same coaching room.

The Islanders named Lane Lambert as a replacement for Trotz on Monday, giving his longtime assistant his first NHL head coaching job. It took only a week from the decision to leave Trotz with one year remaining on his contract for the team to conclude that Lambert was the right choice to succeed him.

“There is definitely a new voice,” Lamoriello said during a virtual press conference. “This new voice is here with Lane, and certainly Lane has different thoughts on different things.”

Trotz was fired last week after the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in his four seasons behind the bench, a disappointing turn of events ended in an opener with a 13-game road trip and series of coronavirus absences and injuries.

Lamoriello said a major reason for the move was a stretch in January when Lambert took over coaching duties from Trotz, who took time off to take care of a family matter and showed impressive leadership.

“When he had the opportunity or was put in this role, he had no questions in his mind regarding his decision-making, no insecurities in the conversations I had with him and the duties that I had. ‘he made before making some of the decisions that were thrust upon him,’ the 79-year-old executive said. “He was totally comfortable in his own skin making decisions that needed to be made no matter where we were and what game it was.”

Lambert, 57, has worked on the staff of Trotz for the past 11 years with Nashville, Washington and New York. He has a Stanley Cup ring from the Capitals’ 2018 title run, after which Trotz quit amid a contract dispute and joined the Islanders.

Trotz was also replaced by an assistant at the time, when Todd Reirden was brought up to take over at Washington. He was fired after two seasons and two first-round playoff exits.

Reirden, now part of Mike Sullivan’s team with the Pittsburgh Penguins, had no previous relationship with Trotz. Lambert started working under Trotz with the Nashville Predators in 2011 after four seasons coaching their American Hockey League affiliate in Milwaukee and has been with him ever since.

Lambert said he spoke with Trotz twice and received his blessing.

“I spoke to Barry last week early after getting the news, and he told me he was hopeful I got the job,” Lambert said. “And then I spoke to him not too long ago and he used the words he was ‘thrilled’.”

Lambert added that he had no mixed emotions about taking over from his former boss based on those conversations.

“We’ve worked well together over the years,” he said. “We supported each other, and he supports me right now and we have to look forward from here.”

Assistants Jim Hiller and John Gruden and goalkeeping coach Piero Greco remain under contract, with Lamoriello and Lambert set to make decisions on their status in the coming weeks.

Lambert, a native of Swift Current, Sask., played 300 regular season and NHL playoff games in the 1980s and many more in the minors and in Europe afterward. He became a coach almost immediately after his playing days, becoming an assistant in 2002 with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League.

Lambert stayed in the junior league, coaching Prince George for two seasons before making the jump to the AHL. Next season will be his 22nd as a coach at all levels and his seventh as a head coach, of course the first at the highest level of hockey.

“You work hard and good things happen,” he said. “I just worked hard and prepared myself to potentially have this opportunity one day.”


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