Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz know a bit about leadership, the former as an NHL executive since 1987 and the latter coaching in the league since 1998.
And the Islanders’ braintrust has been very impressed with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as he leads New York state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is something unprecedented and unpredictable, and something completely fluid as far as the virus that we have,” Lamoriello said in a one-on-one conversation with Newsday on Thursday. “But what I feel best about, personally, is here in New York, we have a governor who’s just doing a tremendous job as a leader.”
Trotz echoed Lamoriello during a radio interview on Sportsnet on Thursday.
“You talk about someone who is accepting a challenge, not afraid of a challenge and dealing with it,” Trotz said. “Every generation has had these moments where you’re tested as a generation — wars, depressions, those kind of things. We’re in a different type of war. If we stay diligent on this, we’re going to take this over and we’ll get back to normal life.
“Nothing is really worth anything unless you have to go through a little bit of hardship to get it and put in the blood and sweat and tears,” Trotz added. “It applies to our game. No team wins a Stanley Cup without sacrificing a big part of something, emotionally, physically. This is just in a different venue and a lot bigger and more important venue than sports right now.”
Trotz said he and Lamoriello have stayed in constant communication, not only with each other and the players but with other members of the organization.
“You have such a wide-ranging support staff,” Trotz said. “You make sure they’re taken care of. If anybody is in a tough situation, Lou is fantastic at correcting those situations. So we’ve been staying pretty busy.”
The Islanders’ offices are closed, so Lamoriello and Trotz are working from home.
“I have a special-needs son who is still in school, so he does his school online in the morning,” Trotz said of his teenage son, Nolan, who was born with Down syndrome. “I try to emulate that. I go to hockey school. I work on some stuff with my team, or I’m just on a conference call with a few other coaches. We came up with some subjects. So we have a coffee and talk about trends, those kinds of things, just to keep our minds in it.”
Lamoriello — who praised the leadership of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in navigating the current challenges — has three grown children, including Islanders assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello.
“The most difficult time is the world we’re living in right now and making sure you stay and do the things that are right for your family,” Lou Lamoriello said. “I have three of my children that are in three different states with their families, and those are worries.”
In terms of team business, the Islanders are still looking to replace president of business operations Travis Williams, who left the organization in October to become the Pittsburgh Pirates’ president. He was overseeing the project to build a new arena for the Islanders at Belmont Park.
“I have no update,” Lamoriello said. “But I’m sure that will be happening in the very near future. A lot of things were put on hold because of the status in the world we’re living in right now.”
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