Islanders Name Lane Lambert as New Head Coach

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Lane Lambert and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders discuss matters during warm-ups prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A week after relieving Barry Trotz as head coach, general manager Lou Lamoriello prompted assistant head coach Lane Lambert into the head coaching role. Lambert spent time as interim head coach earlier this season when Trotz left on bereavement leave following the death of his mother. Though there were many possible candidates, Lamoriello chose to make an in-house move and replace Trotz with an assistant who has been at his side since 2011. The Islanders will be Lambert’s first head coaching job in the NHL

Who is He?

Lambert is a former second-round winger in the 1983 NHL draft. He played six seasons in the NHL, amassing 124 points and 521 penalty minutes through 283 games. He played for the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques.

After retiring from professional hockey in 2001, Lambert immediately began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Lambert later moved to the American Hockey League, where he coached the Milwaukee Admirals and made the playoff in four-straight seasons.

His first job in the NHL came as an assistant for the 2011-12 Nashville Predators, led by Trotz. Lambert followed Trotz to his next job in Washington, culminating in a Stanley Cup win for the 2017-18 season. Lambert followed Trotz, again, to his next job with the Islanders, where he spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach.

After Trotz’s firing, Lamoriello said that the Islanders needed a fresh voice in the locker room. He concluded that a new head coach could help rectify what went wrong with the Islanders this past season.

“There is without question a new voice,” Lamoriello said via USA Today. “That new voice is here with Lane, and certainly Lane has different thoughts on different things.”

The Islanders’ offense looked abysmal, ranking 22nd in goals per game and 23rd in powerplay goals. Lamoriello justified the hiring with a statement quoted by the Toronto Sun.

“I had the opportunity to work with Lane over the past four years, which includes spending time with him on a one-on-one basis when he served as the interim Head Coach this past season,” Lamoriello said. “In my opinion, he is the right person to coach this team.”

Lambert is set to take the reins of a team that has made the playoffs in four of the last five years, with two Conference Final appearances.

How Will he Lead?

Though he is considered a Trotz protege, Lambert is not merely a clone of Trotz. He knows where the Islanders need fixing, and he saw his former boss struggle to garner a consistent offense that also boasts an ineffective powerplay. It will be part of Lambert’s job to fix that, but there is some upside to this problem.

The Islanders will have $12 million in cap room going into the offseason. Noah Dobson and Kiefer Bellows will be restricted free agents, and a good portion of the $12 million will be spent on them. Lamoriello mentioned post-trade deadline, and again after the Trotz firing, that the Islanders may move on from a current forward, hinting that he wants to clear a big salary off the book.

If the Islanders move on from, let’s just say, Josh Bailey, that would be five million more dollars to work with. Bailey doesn’t have a defined role, and the money can be used to sign a big-money free agent, like Filip Forsberg, who can be a top-line scorer. Adding a borderline-elite scoring threat would increase goals during powerplay and five-on-five play. It would be the perfect move for the Islanders to implement a comeback season.

This sentiment is not an old one. Last year rumors about the Islanders trying to trade for scoring linked the team to Vladimir Taresenko, who led the playoff-bound Blues in points this season. It is unknown why the trade rumors stopped, but the Islanders never made a trade, and the offense suffered.

Although the loss of Trotz is hard to stomach, Lamoriello seems to have a plan for the Islanders’ future. Lambert has the full trust of the front office and the team will look to rebound next season.

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