At the start of the week, there were three coaching vacancies in the NHL. Usually, the NHL just recycles the same guys that have already held a head coaching job in the past. But every now and then, a team hands the reigns off to a new face. One of those “new faces” hopeful for a chance to become one of 32 NHL head coaches is New York Islanders associate coach Lane Lambert.
But with the appointment of Gerard Gallant to the New York Rangers just a few days ago, there are now only two openings. The Seattle Kraken and the Arizona Coyotes.
But with the Islanders in the middle of a Cup run, Lambert isn’t available to take interviews. That could have an impact on his chance to get one of those two opportunities.
New York Islanders Lane Lambert chances for HC gig
I’m sure Lane Lambert isn’t too bothered about it. He’s got a real chance to pick up a second Stanley Cup in four years. Having two cup rings as an assistant sure looks good on a resumé.
Opportunities will come of course, but will they be open to hiring a first-time NHL bench boss? Not all of them of course. The Rangers gig that was filled by Gallant certainly wasn’t one open to rookie NHL head coaches. But the ones in Arizona and Seattle certainly could be.
Will either of those teams hold off hiring a coach until they have the chance to speak with Lambert? The Arizona Coyotes might. We still don’t know for sure of course, but based on how Elliotte Freidman brought up Lambert’s name (again) for the Coyotes opening, there’s certainly a chance that they’re interested and might wait.
Seattle could also wait to speak with him, but they’re running out of time on to their self-imposed deadline to hire a coach. Recently, Kraken GM Ron Francis told The Athletic’s Ryan Clark (subscription required) that they wanted someone by the end of the second quarter.
"The Athletic: You’ve said end of second quarter is when you want to make a hire. How far along in the process are you?Francis: We’re certainly on the back nine and we’re late in the second quarter and onto June now. We’re certainly well into the process at this point.The Athletic: Are you at three candidates? Five candidates? Where do you stand with that?Francis: (Laughs) I like the question! But I am not going to answer that one at this point!"
The end of the second quarter is June 30th. That’s two weeks away. The Islanders and Lightning series alone could go until June 25th (if it goes a full seven games). That may be a problem if the Islanders are victorious and move on to the Finals.
And if you’re thinking: “why don’t they just talk to him now?” Teams don’t want to upset Lou Lamoriello according to Elliotte Freidman:
"No one is going to risk Lou Lamoriello’s wrath by asking to speak to Lambert while New York is still playing. (Possible outcome: Toht’s face-melting from Raiders of the Lost Ark.)"
And look, I don’t want the Islanders to lose Lane Lambert. He’s been a hell of an associate coach since he arrived with Barry Trotz. But he’s ready for the next step.
Again, Lambert won’t be too upset if he loses out on a coaching gig because he’s going to the Stanley Cup Finals. He’ll just have to wait in the wings for another opportunity to get a head coaching opportunity. And with all the success the Islanders are having under this coaching regime you have to think he won’t have to wait too much longer for that opportunity.