OK, fine. Lou Lamoriello will be running the Islanders in perpetuity and never will stop believing in his core players.
We get it. So this will not be yet another column on that subject. Uncle.
Lamoriello confirmed on Tuesday what Newsday reported three weeks ago, which is that he will stay with the Islanders, along with coach Lane Lambert.
It was the most boring news possible to come out of the general manager’s long-awaited postseason news media briefing, and it will not sit well with many fans.
But again, there is no point in dwelling on that anymore, at least not here.
Scott Malkin, who owns most of the team, does not speak to fans or reporters to explain himself, but he clearly still believes in the franchise mantra, “In Lou we trust.”
So let’s focus on something useful, which is what must happen for Lamoriello’s beloved veterans to make another playoff run before some turn 40.
It starts with Mathew Barzal.
Part of the reason Barry Trotz was let go last offseason presumably was his difficulty unlocking the secret of how to maximize Barzal, in theory the Islanders’ best and most famous non-goalie.
Barzal had 22 goals and 85 points in his Calder Trophy-winning 2017-18 season, then did not reach those numbers in four years under the defense-oriented Trotz.
The Islanders struggled to find wingers best suited to his creative, unpredictable style at center, and with how to hone his consistency.
That was a big part of Lambert’s mandate when he got the job. How did that go? Let’s just say it remains a work in progress.
The Islanders acquired then signed Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract in February, matching the length of Barzal’s deal and giving the team a pair of stars in their primes.
Lambert moved Barzal to Horvat’s right wing, and the two showed early signs of potential chemistry. Then Barzal suffered a leg injury that would keep him out for the last two months of the regular season; he returned for the playoffs.
When Barzal spoke to reporters on May 1, he made it clear he wanted what was best for the team, but that he was not fully comfortable at right wing.
“I’ve been a center for, I don't know, 15 years, so I wouldn't say it was extremely natural right away,” he said.
He credited Horvat and Jean-Gabriel Pageau for making it easier on him by being well-positioned, but he also noted the adjustment in sticking to one side of the ice rather than “crossing over” and having free rein.
“I wasn't in all areas of the ice as much as I was at center, so there's definitely a little bit of a mentality shift,” he said.
On Tuesday, Lamoriello said, “I think that you do what's best for the team. And Mat will do whatever is asked of him and what is best.”
The GM added that before Barzal got hurt, “I thought they had some pretty good chemistry going (with Horvat) and they did some good things, but we'll wait and see . . . You have to give up your own identity sometimes to have team success.”
With or without Barzal, Horvat was disappointing down the stretch, something Lamoriello attributed in part to fatigue.
“When Mat got hurt, I think we overused him; I think he played too much,” Lamoriello said, noting Horvat was used on power plays, penalty kills and as a face-off specialist.
There figures to be no more compelling storyline in training camp than what becomes of Barzal. If he does return to center, it will create a logjam at that position, based on the current roster.
“Do I feel that Mat can be successful at right wing? Absolutely,” Lamoriello said. “Do I feel that that will be the best decision once we get through training camp when we have all of our people here?
“We’ll see how the different lines can work and can't work. That's when I'll be able to give you an answer. But I have no question that he can do the job of right wing and I have no question he can do the job the center.”
Given Lamoriello’s apparent job security and Horvat’s and Barzal’s contracts, they will have at least until the 2030-31 season to figure it all out.