The New York Islanders have fired coach Barry Trotz after missing the playoffs in his fourth season with the team.
General manager Lou Lamoriello made the surprising announcement Monday, more than a week after the regular season ended. Trotz had one year left on his five-year contract.
“It would be a tremendous understatement to say this was not an easy decision,” Lamoriello said on a conference call. “Unfortunately it is my role to make the best decisions for the organization. … I believe this group of players needs a new voice.”
Lamoriello declined to give reasons for why he believed a new voice was needed.
Trotz coached the Islanders to playoff appearances in each of his first three years with them, reaching the Eastern Conference final in 2020 and 2021 before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
A series of events outside Trotz’s control contributed to the Islanders missing the playoffs this year. While their new arena was being finished, they opened the season on a 13-game road trip and were hit with a string of coronavirus-related absences and injuries that derailed their season.
Lamoriello said the choice to move on from Trotz was not made primarily about what happened this past season. He said, “This is certainly a business decision as far as hockey and winning.”
Trotz joined the Islanders in the summer of 2018 after winning the Stanley Cup earlier that year with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals decided at the time not to rework Trotz’s contract despite the championship and granted him his release.
He coached the Nashville Predators for their first 15 seasons, helping them reach the playoff seven times. His 914 regular-season wins rank third among coaches in NHL history. Trotz could immediately become a candidate for vacancies in Philadelphia, Detroit and Winnipeg, plus others that open up because of his availability.
The Islanders now begin a coaching search with the franchise in the midst of a contending window. Asked what he was looking for in a replacement, Lamoriello said he couldn’t answer specifically and added there was no timeline.
Lamoriello said players were not consulted about the firing, which was known only by ownership before he delivered the news to Trotz on Monday morning. The 79-year-old executive said players “are on notice” about improving and winning next season.