Lane Lambert made the playoffs in his first season behind the bench as New York Islanders head coach, but that doesn't mean it was without his critics and detractors. As of Monday, it wasn't certain that he would be back for his second season as we await clarity on the status of GM Lou Lamoriello.
If the hall-of-fame hockey executive isn't returning for a sixth season as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, that makes Lambert vulnerable to not returning as well since Lamoriello's replacement would likely want to reevaluate and put his own stamp on the organization.
Lambert wasn't nearly as forthcoming or captivating as his predecessor Barry Trotz with the media, which perturbed the fanbase as the team struggled during points of the season. They wanted Lambert to show the same passion, exasperation and frustration that they felt, but it rarely came.
Meanwhile, the players appreciated his calm demeanor behind the bench and his detailed-oriented approach that had them feeling prepared with a clear message ahead of each game. More than that, he navigated the team out of a tough stretch in January that appeared destined to derail their season.
"I thought Lane did a phenomenal job," said Anders Lee on Monday when meeting with the media. "We had a lot of different swings throughout the season, a lot of things we had to handle. He got us to a place where we were playing some of our better hockey down the stretch to put ourselves in and gave us an opportunity."
As for the differences between him and Trotz, one of the selling points was that it going to be subtle, and while there were some minor system changes, things remained relatively familiar for the players.
"Some similar tendencies, maybe small system changes that are easily managed by the players. I thought he was a good voice behind the bench, a pretty seamless position for him to take the head job with how detailed he is and how involved he was before, said Brock Nelson. "For players, it was nice having him rather than having a whole revamp."