The New York Islanders are not having a good season, it's as simple as that. This season has been tough with a new arena, many COVID-19 pauses, and injuries to key players. At the end of the day, the Islanders have only two wins all season against playoff teams. Barry Trotz has made many questionable decisions, and the question is who gets the blame for a team that has seemingly gone backwards?
I have asked the writers at Eyes On Isles their opinion on whether or not the Islanders should keep Barry Trotz if they miss the playoffs. The answers are very different, and each fan, in general, seems to have their own opinion on the disappointing season.
Should the Islanders Fire Barry Trotz If They Fail To Make Playoffs? (Roundtable)
Matt O'Leary: Yes, the Islanders should stick with Barry Trotz. If the Islanders moved on from arguably one of the best coaches in the sport, someone who overachieved in his first three years on the job after just one season of missing the playoffs in a COVID-filled, odd season that would be incredibly short-sighted. I don’t see how this is even a discussion at this point. Barry Trotz level coaches don’t grow on trees and then you’re right where you were for the last 25 years before Lou Lamoriello and Trotz got here.
Brian Weinberger: The Islanders firing Barry Trotz would be one of the biggest mistakes in the history of a franchise known for making huge mistakes. Fans, think back to the summer Trotz arrived, the same summer Tavares left. Imagine somebody asked you, right before the 2018-19 season, what you expected out of the next few years. Your answer would have been "we'll be terrible". So would mine.
Now imagine that somebody told you, in the next four years, the Islanders - without Tavares - will make the playoffs three times and win five playoff series (six if you count the bubble play-in round). You wouldn't believe them, but if you did, you'd be thrilled beyond your wildest dreams. And that's exactly what Trotz's record will be if the Isles miss the playoffs this year. Don't get me wrong, this season has been bad. Really, really bad. But how much of that is Trotz's fault, and how much of it is the 13-game road trip, followed by a truly insane stretch in which a third of the team had COVID at any given time and the lineup literally never stayed the same?
And certainly, you can have valid criticisms of Trotz. Personally, I wish he gave Wahlstrom more playing time. You might think he should be quicker to bench players or stop favoring veterans so much, or whatever. That's fine, he's not immune to criticism. But he's also, indisputably, been one of the top 5 coaches in the league since he arrived here (fresh off of winning a Stanley Cup, by the way). Firing Trotz would not only be a mistake but a catastrophic blunder on par with trading the young Chara or passing on Dany Heatley. Thankfully, Lou Lamoriello is not Mike Milbury, so I'm not worried they actually will fire Trotz. But just to be clear, they absolutely should not.
Lexi Panagatos: I believe that Barry Trotz has been a great coach for the Islanders, but his system no longer works. His way of benching the younger players and keeping in veterans when they present worse play is unfair. A recent example of this frustration is Robin Salo getting benched because Ryan Pulock is ready to play. Zdeno Chara’s spot needs to be re-evaluated in this case so Salo can remain in the lineup. Another ongoing flaw the islanders struggle with is their offense. Barry Trotz left out both Oliver Wahlstrom and Keiffer Bellows a few times this season. This does not help the lineup at all, it hurts it. Josh Bailey has negatively affected the lineup, but you don't see Trotz benching him. If Trotz wants to keep treating our younger guys as villains for mistakes and not holding veterans accountable, I am totally okay with the Islanders and Trotz parting ways.
Mitch Anderson: Even if the New York Islanders miss the playoffs they need to keep Barry Trotz. Not should. They need to keep him. I understand we all want to see Oliver Wahlstrom play more but is that really a fireable offense? It isn't. It's not even close to a fireable offense. Is there anyone out there that's better than Trotz behind the bench? No there isn't. There is no reason to start the 2022-23 season with anyone other than Barry Trotz behind the bench. If the Isles miss the postseason, they need to retool the lineup a bit and run this again in 2022-23 that includes having Barry Trotz behind the bench.
Andrew Tessler: I think that Barry Trotz system was great for the Islanders teams of the past few years, but not their current lineup. Let's remember the Islanders success the last two years was during two shortened seasons. Their veteran lineup had less traveling and more time to rest. I believe that the Trotz system simply doesn't work, and his inability to bench lackluster veterans in favor of the young guys is simply mind-blowing.
The Islanders had to deal with a tremendous amount of adversity this year but at the end of the day they have TWO wins against playoff teams. Simply unacceptable. I don't think you should fire Trotz after this season, but if they can retool the lineup a little and the team misses the playoffs next year, he should absolutely get the boot.