Former NY Islanders head coach Lane Lambert could join Toronto Maple Leafs staff

New York Islanders v Florida Panthers
New York Islanders v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Former New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert may not remain out of work for long.

NHL Insider Darren Dreger said on First Up, a morning radio show on TSN Radio, that Lambert could join the Toronto Maple Leafs staff next season as new head coach Craig Berube rounds out his coaching staff. A move back alongside a Stanley Cup-winning head coach would be a familiar one for Lambert, who was a long-time assistant of Barry Trotz in Nashville, Washington, and on Long Island.

Lambert had long been thought of as a top NHL assistant and a future head coach when GM Lou Lamoriello surprisingly relieved Trotz of his coaching duties after a disappointing 2021-22 season. Lambert stepped in as head coach for a few games that season as Trotz tended to personal responsibilities and impressed Lamoriello enough to be promoted to head coach.

The Islanders were inconsistent during the 1.5 seasons with Lambert behind the bench, struggling to maintain the elite defensive structure that led them to success under Trotz. Part of that was design, as Lambert aimed to implement changes in the system targted at making the Isles more offensively minded. After losing Mathew Barzal to a regular season-ending injury in February during his first year, the team rallied to make the post-season before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in six games.

There was optimism entering Bo Horvat's first full season with the team and the return of a healthy Barzal on the top line, but Lambert was not afforded the same opportunity to right the ship as he did the previous season. The team was 19-15-11, in sixth place in the Metro, and had been able to turn around the troubling trend of blowing third-period leads throughout the season, leading to Lamoriello firing Lambert on Jan. 20 and hiring Patrick Roy as head coach.

"This is always a tough decision," Lamoriello said. “I have tremendous respect for Lane. But right now, we have to get right back on track." Overall, Lambert was 61-46-20 as Islanders head coach.