The silver lining, we suppose, is that no less than the Islanders are noticeable for a couple of minutes. The opposite one, presumably for those who’re actually stretching for them, is that if the Isles are going to have a dinosaur GM that the sport has handed by, they may as nicely have (one other) coach who can also be a dinosaur that the sport has handed by.
Over the weekend, the Islanders dismissed empty-suit Lane Lambert from behind their bench and employed Patrick Roy. Yep, that Patrick Roy, the one who wasn’t something wanting a catastrophe in Colorado whereas he challenged different coaches to fights or pulling his goalie with 10 minutes left or his bluster within the press to cowl for his lack of information and his three playoff wins in three seasons. That is who the Islanders have turned to to avoid wasting them.
However the Islanders have been on this course for some time, ever since they employed Lou Lamoriello, the Sith Lord who presided because the GM in 2018 over the Devils’ trap-and-kill-joy mini-dynasty of the late Nineties. He hasn’t finished something since these Satan Days round 2000, after all, however that didn’t cease the Isles from bringing him on as a result of he lived not too far-off, or no less than used to. The Islanders had been capable of delude themselves into pondering they had been among the many NHL’s aristocracy thanks to 2 convention ultimate appearances within the joke seasons or bubbles of 2020 and 2021, in addition to a first-round sweep of an growing older Penguins staff the 12 months earlier than that.
However apart from some fluky playoff leads to fluky circumstances, the Islanders have spent the remainder of the time enjoying dire hockey both below Barry Trotz or Lambert, virtually totally reliant on their goaltending being nice and Mathew Barzal with the ability to conjure simply sufficient offense to make that goaltending depend. Whereas Lambert fell off the Trotz tree, the Isles stay a dreadful defensive staff. Their xGA/60 is fifth-worst within the league, behind Anaheim and Ottawa, and forward of such groups as Chicago, Montreal and San Jose, who aren’t attempting to win. Most nights, Ilya Sorokin or Varlamov have been capable of cling off the cliff and cling onto the remainder of the staff with their different hand to no less than hold them in it regardless of all of the structural issues.
It’s been this fashion for some time, and but not one of the Isles brass, particularly Lamoriello, can acknowledge how the sport is performed now. Groups want d-men that may rise up and go, and carry the puck out of their zone and thru the impartial zone themselves. Possibly Adam Pelech or Noah Dobson can try this, however they’ve actually by no means been given a license to take action. But the numbers don’t counsel they’ll.
Groups want a raft of forwards that may buzz round on the forecheck or with the puck. Lamoriello traded for Bo Horvat, which is all good and good, however has additionally at all times prioritized ensuring the fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Czikas and Cal Clutterbuck are stored round. No staff ought to ever prioritize their fourth line, ever. The Isles middle-six wingers are names like Hudson Fasching, Kyle Palmieri (whose primary attraction for Lou is that he’s a Yank, apparently), Simon Holmstrom, and Julien Gauthier. Are these guys Lou discovered loitering on the LIRR station? We don’t know!
Even staff linchpins Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are nicely into their 30s, and look more and more misplaced in a league that’s at all times souping up, speed-wise. Beneath Trotz, then Lambert, and at all times below the unblinking and presumably undead eye of Lamoriello, the Isles have performed a dump-and-chase, gum-up-the-neutral zone, wait-for-a-turnover fashion that neither prevents opponents from getting into their zone with possession nor will get the Isles a whole lot of possession or probabilities within the different finish. The sport is simply too quick for all of that now.
And into all of this Lamoriello has launched the chaos bomb that’s Roy. Roy’s tenure in Colorado was marked by woeful defensive play and goalie Varlamov bailing them out so long as he can till all of it breaks. Roy’s tenure went so nicely that as quickly because it was over, GM Joe Sakic determined they wanted to begin fully over.
Roy has been teaching the staff within the QMJHL that he owns, the Quebec Ramparts, and there most likely isn’t a ton of strain teaching a staff that you just personal. The Ramparts have had back-to-back 100-point seasons and received the Memorial Cup final 12 months, however teaching youngsters and training execs are two very various things, and Roy’s volcanic nature doesn’t are likely to play nicely with adults after an preliminary grace interval. Even John Tortorella has calmed it down in Philly and look how that’s going.
Roy could get the followers on his aspect with some quip within the press or yelling on the different bench to point out simply HOW MUCH HE CARES, however the Isles will nonetheless be enjoying a recreation extra set for 2004 than 2024. And that’s not going to vary with a administration staff that final skilled all their glory 20-30 years in the past.
Comply with Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social