Going into the regular season the New York Islanders are rightly seen as a contender for the Stanley Cup. That’s what happens when a team foes to back-to-back conference finals like the Isles did over the last two years.
The expectations are high for the Isles, but there’s a burden to that. A burden that coach Barry Trotz is all too familiar with.
New York Islanders: Trotz on the unseen side of being a contender
Speaking to reporters on the eve of the Islanders season opener in Carolina, the Isles head coach reminded everyone that being a Cup contender doesn’t mean getting there is a walk in the park:
Trotz has been in this position before. During his time with the Washington Capitals, his team was routinely seen as favorites to challenge for the Cup. But for years they stumbled before eventually winning one in 2018.
Barry Trotz knows that the players or the coaching staff can’t fall into some sort of complacency due to the lofty projection placed upon them to begin the season. The Islanders still need to earn the right to compete for said Cup.
They have 82 games to prove they deserve the right to be one of the 16 teams that will play for the Cup. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. heck, all of the work still needs to be done. The puck hasn’t yet dropped on the regular season for the Islanders yet.
Not seeing the forest for the trees could very well sink the Isles before they even get the chance to prove that they are contenders. That’s the burden Trotz is talking about.
And like Trotz., it’s easy to see how this group is “capable”. This team isn’t full of fresh-faced youngsters burdened with this heavy expectation for the first time in their careers. This is a veteran squad who’ve been down this road before.
They, just like Trotz, know what needs to be done and won’t be dragged into living up to these early expectations.