Patrick Roy of the Islanders looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes...

Patrick Roy of the Islanders looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at UBS Arena on Thursday, Apr. 25, 2024 in Elmont. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Coaching moments do not get much worse than the one Patrick Roy endured on Thursday night. He made a bold move and it blew up in his face.

Watching Ilya Sorokin leave the ice 7:14 into the second period after giving up three goals on 14 shots was a surreal, can-this-really-be-happening sight.

Those goals were the difference in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes at UBS Arena that left the Islanders in a 3-0 hole in the teams’ first-round playoff series.

Not good. But a few points here:

First, going to Sorokin over Semyon Varlamov for Game 3 would not have been my vote, but it was not a nutty notion. Had it worked, Roy would have been hailed.

Second, Roy has been under a microscope playing, coaching and / or living in his native Quebec for four decades. Don’t worry about him. He can handle this.

Finally, and most important, Thursday’s misstep does not change the fact that Roy appears to be a keeper behind the Islanders’ bench, at least for the near future.

Coaches are remarkably disposable in hockey. Consider the guy in charge of the Manhattan-based NHL franchise, former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette.

Over a 22-season career, he has reached the Stanley Cup Final three times — winning once — and this season won the Presidents’ Trophy.

Impressive. But he has done all that with six different teams, which in hockey somehow seems normal.

So betting on Roy being here when Sorokin’s contract runs out in 2032 would be unwise. But for the next three, four or five seasons? Why not?

And, no, that is not only because he is good for reporters as a producer of colorful quotes. Roy has presence and charisma because of his resume as a four-time Cup-winning goalie but also because of his personality.

So let’s assume he is a given for next season, as are his two goalies, especially Sorokin, who will see his new eight-year, $66-million contract take effect.

That itself will be fascinating to watch in the coming offseason and into 2024-25 as Roy tries to rediscover what made Sorokin a rising star.

He looked like a broken man after being yanked on Thursday, crouching over in the tunnel to the locker room until someone found him a chair, his helmet still on.

“Early in my career, I had ups and downs as well,” Roy said on Friday. “Every goaltender goes through this, and that’s why we call it a ‘career.’ ”

Fair enough, but if Roy can’t help Sorokin regain his touch, who can?

The future with the Islanders of Mitch Korn, the team’s director of goaltending, is unclear. Might Roy want to overhaul that part of the operation?

As for the broader stewardship of the franchise, that will be a matter of intense interest if the Islanders go quietly in the first round.

Lou Lamoriello, who will turn 82 early next season, has overseen the second-greatest era in Islanders history, but it might be time for a major organizational reset.

What role might Roy play in such a transition? Another fascinating question.

Understandably, Roy has avoided any questions about the future during the past couple of days, be it about Sorokin or the rest of the team, for obvious reasons.

“What I’m thinking about is just getting prepared for tomorrow and making sure that everything is set up to have a good game,” he said. (He also stated the obvious, that Varlamov will start Game 4 on Saturday.)

Captain Anders Lee, who is on his fifth Islanders coach, said he believes Roy has done a good job dealing with the team’s current playoff plight.

Lee and his teammates also have been publicly supportive of Roy’s goalie choices, saying they are comfortable with both options.

But what choice do they have, really? First, he’s the boss. Second, when it comes to goalies, skaters have about as much insight as you or I do.

“Both guys have played phenomenal hockey for us this year, and whoever’s in the nets doesn’t really change how we play, what we need to do as a group in front of them,” Lee said. “The rest of that’s on us.”

Saturday should be interesting. Sunday and beyond could be more interesting.


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