Patrick Roy's intense practice was proof the NY Islanders lost their identity

Feb 5, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy gestures as he
Feb 5, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy gestures as he / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

A few seasons ago, the New York Islanders, maybe more than any other team in the NHL, had a clear and unmistakable identity. There were teams with more talented rosters than them, some much more talented, but the Islanders under Barry Trotz had built a reputation as a group hard to play against.

That reputation has slowly faded over the last three seasons. You may still hear a national TV or radio personality say those things about the Islanders out of habit, but those of us watch each and every game no different. The names are the same, but the effort and mentality haven't been for a while now.

Head Coach Patrick Roy saw what we've seen, which is why following their 2-1 shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday, the Hockey Hall-of-Famer led an intense, training camp-style practice that ended up in Herb Brooks-type "bag skates" to close things out.

The only thing Roy didn't do was ask them what team they played for after each skate.

Why did he do this? Because he knows the Islanders are lacking the thing that was an equalizer for them for so many seasons. “Today was about fundamentals,” Roy said. “We’ve been talking a lot about the structure and how we’re going to play, but there’s one part in our game that has to improve and that’s the compete level. Today was a good day for that.”

Roy believes his team needed to be more physical and more intense during this shifts. This will create more zone time, prevent turnovers and create some too, making them a better hockey club. It's not something he likes doing, but there are times you have to do it.

“Today wasn’t a punishment,” defenseman Ryan Pulock told amNewYork. “It was a day where we were going to go out and work and make each other better and instill this work ethic in the group so when the next game comes, we’re doing it."

“This is about getting back to our identity of hard work, outworking teams, outcompeting teams, outbattling teams. That starts in practice.”

It's disappointing that this team admits they need to get back to their identity, one that served so well for several seasons. Roy is trying to change the culture, and DNA of the team. The first step in doing so is admitting the Islanders identify was missing and needed to be rebuilt.