Obviously, the New York Islanders' 2021-22 season didn't go as planned. Many preseason projections pegged the Isles to return to the postseason for the fourth time in as many seasons, and even went as far to say they were Stanley Cup favorites. However, things went so array that just over a week ago, GM Lou Lamoriello relieved former head coach Barry Trotz of his duties and promoted Lane Lambert to head coach a week later.
Lambert joined Sportsnet's The Jeff Marek Show on Thursday to talk about his new gig and how he got there. After having been by Trotz's side for the last 11 years, Marek asked what Lambert had learned from Trotz that will be important for him in his new role:
"We’ve been together for 11 years, we’ve had some conversations over the last couple of days. I just think the biggest thing I’ve learned is not even hockey stuff. It’s human stuff. It’s patience and humility and he exemplifies that every day. Everyone knows that in the business and that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from him moving forward. "- Lane Lambert
Trotz always had a unique ability to get the most out of his players and a lot of that had to do with how he treated them. The good news moving forward is that it appears to be one of Lambert's biggest takeaways after riding shotgun with the future Hall-of-Fame coach for over a decade.
However, part of the reason Lamoriello made the decision to relieve Trotz and promote Lambert was due to the fact that the Isles GM felt they needed a new voice from behind the bench. Marek asked Lambert if there were any awkward moments during his interview if/when Lambert was asked about on-ice personnel changes and Lambert made it clear that wouldn't be an issue.
"I don’t think so, I think in those situations you’re in there for a reason and that’s all part of the process, it wasn’t awkward for me."- Lane Lambert
It's evident that although Lambert will bring a similar coach-to-player relationship to the Islanders as Trotz did, it's also quite clear that he's not afraid to hold his players accountable and will make it known who does and doesn't fit in the Islanders system.
Whether or not the 2021-22 season for the Islanders was an anomaly remains to be seen. The uptick in performance from February and on was encouraging, but there's no guarantee they'll return to their former selves. Lambert, however, believes the Islanders will return as contenders sooner rather than later and believes the current core of the Islanders has the ability to make it happen.
"Well, I think (we'll contend) quickly. As we do every year, we’ve got some work to do in the summer. We’ll assess everything and we’ll prepare ourselves to give our team the best chance to win every night. We do have a great core and we’re excited for September."- Lane Lambert
It's a big offseason for Lamoriello, Lambert, and the Islanders. Changes are already afoot, and some more could be coming, but one thing is for sure. Lambert is the new boss behind the bench and he has no intentions of taking things slow. The Islanders sights are set to return to the playoffs and Stanley Cup contention as soon as possible.