Two days into Lane Lambert’s first training camp as an NHL head coach and one thing has become immediately clear: The Islanders new bench boss is extremely hands-on in running the drills and very vocal about what he does — and does not — like.
“He’s passionate,” Kyle Palmieri said on Friday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. “He played the game for a long time and he’s been coaching a long time with different organizations, different players. He was ready for this opportunity. He’s excited about our group and we’re excited to have him at the helm.”
Lambert spent ample time diagramming and explaining drills, giving instant critiques and pushing the players in the three up-tempo sessions that each ended with repeated blue line-to-blue line sprints.
He’s emphasized to the players he wants to play at a high pace and an aggressive style.
Of course, that’s a standard goal around the NHL and there’s typically always optimism and kind words for a new coach in training camp. Lambert’s real test in terms of being able to imprint the team’s culture comes when the season begins and the wins and losses start counting.
The Islanders, coming off their first playoff miss since 2018, open their six-game preseason schedule against the Rangers on Monday night at Madison Square Garden and the regular season opens against the Panthers at UBS Arena on Oct. 13.
During press conferences, Lambert’s demeanor is certainly much more reserved than predecessor and longtime boss Barry Trotz. But, on the ice, Lambert is forcefully providing that “new voice” president and general manager Lou Lamoriello sought in promoting him from associate coach on May 16.
“Lane always had a pretty big voice inside the room,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “He led a lot of meetings. He’s a very straight-forward, concise and confident speaker. That just comes from him knowing the material very well. He’s able to just directly give it to you.
“Lane was always like 90% head coach as far as the way he carried himself around us. He really was a co-head coach with Barry and he acted that way. A lot of times, assistant coaches are there to sort of take the pulse of the players and have a little more intimate, personal relationship with them and the head coach is the one that’s supposed to take care of the big picture. But I feel like Lane was always looking out for the big picture.”
Notes & quotes: Goalie Seymon Varlamov missed Friday’s session for personal reasons, per Lambert, and is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday…Forwards Otto Koivula and Collin Adams and defenseman Isaiah George remained off the ice for a second straight day…Lambert said it was possible the first cuts to the 59-man training camp roster would come on Wednesday after the Islanders face the Devils on Tuesday night at Prudential Center. “There’s definitely some potential for that to happen,” Lambert said. “We’ll see what happens, in terms of everything, after that New Jersey game.”