The Islanders haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1983.
But their new coach, Barry Trotz, lifted the Cup just two weeks ago.
Lou Lamoriello, hired on May 22 as president of hockey operations, continued his swift makeover of the franchise on Thursday by luring Trotz after he resigned from the Capitals on Monday.
Trotz reportedly agreed to a five-year deal worth more than $4 million annually to help re-invigorate a franchise that has won just one postseason series since 1993 and missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
“No. 1, if you know anything about Lou Lamoriello, his background and what he does, he’ll do what it takes to win,” Trotz said. “That got me excited right away.
“His vision and plan for the team and what he’s already done in a short amount of time,” added Trotz, who turns 56 on July 15 and has been an NHL head coach since 1998. “He’s changed a lot of cultural things. I love that. That’s what they hired me to do in Washington, change the culture and try to win the Cup. That’s what we’ll try to do on the Island.”
Trotz’s confidence in Lamoriello’s leadership abilities also extends to negotiations with franchise player John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I felt strongly that once Lou gets with John, Lou is going to execute a plan, a long-term plan that will be very successful so we can chase the Stanley Cup and win a Stanley Cup,” Trotz said.
Trotz said the negotiations were in “good hands” and said there has been “constant contact” between Lamoriello, Tavares and Tavares’ agent, Pat Brisson.
“Obviously, John is such a big part of the team,” Trotz said. “We talked. We talked about a lot of things, the vision that was relayed to me and also relayed to John from Lou. We talked about where he was. We talked about the team and areas we feel we can fix together and areas we can look to improve upon. It was a great conversation.”
As for his Islanders’ coaching staff, Trotz said his only mandate was to “get the best people out there to help us win” and that he wanted both an organized staff and a teaching staff.
Trotz acknowledged Capitals assistant Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn were candidates to join him with the Islanders.
Lamoriello relieved general manager Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight of their duties on June 5. Two days later, Trotz led the Capitals to the franchise’s first Cup.
Trotz spent the past four seasons behind the Capitals’ bench and previously coached the Predators from 1998-2014. He has a career regular-season record of 762 wins, 568 losses, 60 ties and 134 overtime losses and since he led the expansion Predators to their first playoff berth in 2004, Trotz’s teams have only missed the postseason three times.
Yet before the Capitals’ five-game win over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the Cup Final, Trotz’s teams had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
Trotz and the Capitals parted ways after Trotz made it clear he wanted to be among the highest-paid coaches in the NHL and pushed for a five-year deal.
Trotz was reportedly earning $1.5 million annually with the Capitals and the Cup win triggered a two-year extension with a modest raise.
“I don’t think that was an issue,” Trotz said when asked whether he felt the Capitals wanted him back. “I think it was more principle.”
The Maple Leafs’ Mike Babcock currently sets the bar among NHL coaches with his reported $6.25 million annual salary. The Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville makes a reported $6 million per season and the Canadiens’ Claude Julien is earning a reported $5 million annually.
Because the Capitals accepted Trotz’s resignation, the Islanders do not owe them any compensation for hiring him.
Trotz is the first coach not to return to his team immediately after leading it to the Stanley Cup since Scotty Bowman retired after the Red Wings won in 2002. Mike Keenan left the Rangers after winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 to become GM/coach of the Blues.