New York Islanders fans have the right to feel down after being swept in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes. But remember, this is only year one.
We’re just a few weeks from Lou Lamoriello’s first anniversary as the New York Islanders President of Hockey Operations. It hasn’t even been a year yet and his tenure has been an incredible success.
On May 22nd, 2018, the Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello to be the team’s President of Hockey Operations. A title previously held by long-term President and GM Garth Snow.
Lou’s goal when he came in was to establish a winning culture. With back-to-back losing seasons before he was appointed, and then losing their star player and number one center establishing a winning culture didn’t seem in the cards.
It was going to take some time for Lou to see his vision take hold. Or so we thought.
It didn’t take that long. After his first season, the New York Islanders reversed the trend of the two previous seasons. With a hard-working style, the Islanders defied expectations with a winning season and 103 points to finish second in the Metropolitan Division.
His plan worked almost perfectly. Moves that were questioned in the summer look brilliant now.
He brought in Robin Lehner who won a Jennings trophy and is a finalist for the Vezina and Masterton. Valtteri Filppula anchored the third line with 17 goals and 31 points. Trading for Matt Martin reunited the best fourth line in hockey that set the tone and pace for the Islanders.
And, above all, he brought in Barry Trotz. Bringing in a coach with that caliber, fresh off a Stanley Cup win, gave the Isles structure, a system, and a winning mentality. Three things they hadn’t had in a long time.
It took Lou a year. A year to turn the Islanders from 17 points out of the playoffs to a 103 point team.
The New York Islanders weren’t supposed to be where they are right now. Not in year one. This team was supposed to be near the bottom of the NHL rather than the top. After the offseason the Isles had it felt like the reset button had been hit. Playoff hockey wasn’t in the question, it was going to take some time to get there.
This season was all about evaluation. But with a full season at the helm now, it’s safe to say that Lou knows what he has, and more importantly, what he doesn’t have.
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The Islanders are poised to take a step forward next season. They’re a winning team with competent management and coaching. They have cap space to be big players in this offseasons strong unrestricted free agent class. And they have depth in the system, either to supplement their current roster or to siphon off in trades for quality NHL players.
Year one was amazing. The next few years should be even better.