Barry Trotz got back to work on Saturday, still grieving the loss of his mother.
"Everybody loves their mom, I love my mom," the Islanders coach said after Saturday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. "Some of the things that I look back on that she did over the years molded me and my sister, just as my dad did. So, any success that we’ve had as a family or I’ve had personally, it’s for our parents."
Iris Helen Trotz, 78, passed away on Jan. 1 and associate coach Lane Lambert ran the Islanders’ bench for that afternoon’s 3-2 overtime win over the Oilers at UBS Arena plus the next four practices with Trotz absent from the team.
A funeral service was held Wednesday in Trotz’s hometown of Dauphin, Manitoba.
"This is the first time I’ve lost a parent, so it’s very difficult," Trotz said. "I have a better understanding when it happens to someone else and I just want to thank everybody who’s reached out. Not only with the Islanders’ organization, the fans reached out. It’s very heart-warming to me and comforting that it’s one big family."
The Islanders, with their road trip to Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary postponed because attendance has been limited in Canadian arenas, do not play again until facing the Devils on Thursday night at UBS Arena.
Even though there’s still plenty of time until the Islanders’ next game, Trotz said it was personally important to be back with the group on Saturday.
"It is very meaningful for a couple of reasons," Trotz said. "The way the organization reacted, allowing me to go home and take the necessary time. The players reaching out. And, just watching them today, the effort and the work ethic and the details they put in. It’s not easy, obviously, a 10-day break, they’ve done a really good job.
"I think Lane and Jimmy [Hiller] and Gruds [John Gruden], the whole coaching staff, did a marvelous job with the guys. We had a chance to work on some things and, hopefully, we get a chance to play in a few days."
While the players responded well to Lambert’s stewardship against the Oilers and in practices, they were also happy to see Trotz return.
"Thoughts and prayers were for him and his family last week," Brock Nelson said. "It’s always tough losing a loved one. He quickly addressed the team. It’s nice to see him. I think it just shows he enjoys being here everyday to be a leader."
"It’s a tough time for him and his family," Anthony Beauvillier said. "It’s good to have him back. He was smiling today. He was excited to be back with us, too."
Trotz’s quick assessment after a week away from the Islanders is that the players are using the long time in between games wisely.
"I think they’ve responded perfectly," Trotz said. "They’re dialed in. I watched them work today. No one is cutting any corners. It’s great to see."