As terrific Isles beat writer Arthur Staple noted this week in The Athletic, "You can blame Lambert for not motivating his team enough...if you've got a team of 14-year-olds, blame the coach. A team of professional athletes doing that is on the players and no one else. That they'd do that knowing it's the coach who takes the fall for games like those is a bad sign."
Staple is 100% right. It would have been unimaginable two or three years ago that this team would fold like this. It has become a country club. After missing the playoffs two seasons ago and then barely scraping into the playoffs last season, this roster got one more chance. They haven't made the most of it.
The next logical step is a roster retool. With Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson, and Ilya Sorokin as the core, this team does not need a full rebuild. But it's time for a new iteration of the Islanders.
Firing Lambert now would be pointless in this scenario. It is frankly preferable to secure a better draft pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and then go into the offseason and next season with a new power structure in place. Not only does that mean a new coaching staff, but new management as well. After all, this is Lou Lamoriello's roster, and Lou decided to stick with it three years in a row now with middling results.
Perhaps after this season, it would be best for Lamoriello to transition into some sort of advisory role for ownership, and allow a new management team to select their coaching staff and take the Islanders into the next successful window.
But that is all a discussion for the future. For today? Unless some new coach can drastically turn this team around, firing Lambert would be akin to moving chairs around on the Titanic. Monday's loss proved that this roster no longer has that fire in their souls. They simply do not have what it takes, on the ice or inside their hearts.
No coaching change can fix that.