After the Islanders made the shocking decision to fire coach Barry Trotz on Monday morning, all eyes are on Lou Lamoriello as he gets started on a process that will have a massive impact on the organization’s future.
The Islanders, who ranked 21st in scoring this season, need a coach who can get the offense moving. They also need, as Lamoriello put it, a “new voice” — perhaps one who can relate to the team’s younger players.
It’s hard to overstate the gravity of what happens next. Everything that happens to the Islanders in 2022-23 will be pulled through the keyhole of Trotz and his successor, for better or for worse. When it comes to Lamoriello, everything is shrouded beneath a veil of secrecy, particularly in a situation like a coaching search. That said, here are some candidates to look out for as the next weeks unfold:
Joel Quenneville, free agent
Hiring Quenneville, who resigned in October after revelations about his role in the Blackhawks’ Kyle Beach scandal, would provoke public outcry and require approval from the NHL. But Quenneville is second on the all-time coaching wins list — one spot ahead of Barry Trotz — and Lamoriello does not care one iota about public opinion.
Mike Babcock, head coach, University of Saskatchewan
In the midst of a rehabilitation project in Saskatchewan, Babcock would be another candidate whose hiring would result in backlash — he left the Maple Leafs job in 2019 after allegations of a toxic work environment surfaced. But he worked with Lamoriello in Toronto, and has a Cup-winning pedigree.
Pete DeBoer, head coach, Golden Knights
If Vegas were to move on from DeBoer after his own shambolic season, he could be a fit. DeBoer coached under Lamoriello for more than three seasons in New Jersey, taking the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final before missing the playoffs in each subsequent year. He’s since had stops in San Jose, taking the Sharks to the 2016 Cup Final, and Vegas.
Lane Lambert, associate coach, Islanders
Lambert has been a Trotz assistant for more than a decade and filled in for him when Trotz took a leave in January following his mother’s death. If Lamoriello wants continuity, Lambert would be the obvious pick, but it’s a little hard to see the logic in firing Trotz only to promote his top assistant.
Paul Maurice, free agent
Trotz’s name will almost certainly be linked to the Winnipeg job, as his hometown of Dauphin is in Manitoba. It’s worth wondering if the Islanders would take a look at Maurice, who resigned from the Jets midseason, saying he no longer was getting through to the players. There is some question as to whether Maurice, who ranks sixth all-time in victories, would be interested in taking another job, but if so, he certainly has the required pedigree.
Brent Thompson, head coach, Bridgeport Islanders
Thompson has been in the Islanders organization since the 2011-2012 season and been the head coach of their AHL affiliate since 2014, so it figures that he would at least get a look. He has Bridgeport in the second round of the AHL playoffs after a 31-30-11 regular season.
Scott Stevens, free agent
Stevens has played and coached in Lamoriello-led organizations, but left his last job as an assistant with the Wild to spend more time with family. Convincing him to come to Long Island could be an uphill battle.
Rick Tocchet, Analyst, TNT
After spending a year on TV following an unsuccessful stint with the Coyotes, Tocchet could look to get back behind the bench with the Islanders. Whether he’s seen as a viable candidate after a four-season run in Arizona without a playoff berth is likely a different question.