Three years ago, the Islanders reaped the benefits of the Washington Capitals making one of the biggest mistakes in their franchise’s history. They decided that they didn’t want to pay Barry Trotz, so he walked away.
Trotz was on the last year of his deal where he was getting paid $1.5 million a season. He had a clause where a Stanley Cup would’ve bumped his contract an extra two years with a $300,000 raise.
For reference, that’s way under market value for what elite-level coaches are getting. The Capitals didn’t want to pony up with the cash and instead went with Todd Reirden. He finished with 104 points in his first year and then 90 (in 69 games) in year two.
One problem, both times the Washington Capitals got bounced in the playoffs early. In 2020, it was Barry Trotz and the Islanders who ended their season. They decided to go out and pay Peter Laviolette, a great coach but it was the same result in year one.
In 5 games, the first place Capitals got bounced by the Bruins. Since Barry Trotz has left, the Capitals have yet to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
For the Islanders, their trajectory is the exact opposite. In year one under Trotz, they went from a team bleeding goals to the best defensive team in the league. With that came a trip to the second round.
Last year, they went to six games in the Eastern Conference Final, again on the back of strong defensive structure. Right now, they’re tied two games apiece against Pittsburgh but I think nobody would argue that the Isles have been the more successful team since 2018-2019.
I think Arthur Staple said it best with this tweet. Coaching matters, this Islanders team wouldn’t be anywhere close to where it is now if it wasn’t this guy behind the bench. The Capitals might’ve closed their own Stanley Cup window, just because their owner didn’t want to pay Barry Trotz fair market value. Such a shame.