There's No Lack of Leadership in the NY Islanders Locker Room

Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders
Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It has not been an ideal season for the NY Islanders in any capacity. The team's inconsistencies have put them in their current position fighting for a spot in the playoffs. If not for their incapability to close out games, they'd be comfortably in third place in the Metropolitan Division - but instead, here we are.

Despite all this, the Islanders again control their own destiny, finding a way back into the race when it appeared they were dead and buried. 

Managing the peaks and valleys within a season like this requires strong leadership from within. On Jan. 20th, the Isles departed with head coach Lane Lambert in favor of Patrick Roy. Going back to his playing days with the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche, and even his time as owner/coach of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, Roy has always been able to get the best out of his players, knowing when to push the right buttons. 

Then on the ice, you have captain Anders Lee. Not the most vocal of leaders, Lee tends to lead by example. Though he’s lost a step or two since being appointed captain in 2018 he’s still willing to stand up for his teammates when necessary. His leadership was at the forefront during the 2021 playoffs when he couldn't play due to his recovery from a torn ACL. He was still constantly around the team and was a huge locker room presence before and during games.

Then there is Bo Horvat. A guy in his first full season with the Islanders but a natural-born leader at every stop of his career dating back to his days with the London Knights in junior hockey. Horvat simply gets in and puts winning above everything else. At the Islanders' night with the players a few weeks ago, Horvat mentioned that he liked visiting warm-weather cities on the road. Shannon Hogan was excited that the team was heading to Florida for two games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Horvat responded with “I just care about getting wins.” 

Not to mention that even though he hasn't been part of the Islanders and Rangers rivalry for long, he understands what the fans want to hear in regards to how he feels about their rivals.

"I'm a New York Islander," said Horvat after last nights win. "I think I'm supposed to hate them."

While Lee is still wearing the “C” on his chest, many believe that Horvat will be the future captain of the Islanders.

Cal Clutterbuck has been an alternate captain since his second season with the Islanders in 2014-15 and has always been a vocal leader in the locker room. Last night, Clutterbuck stepped up on the bench, calling the team together to calm everybody down during a stoppage in play after Adam Pelech’s “vicious” elbow on Mika Zibanejad. “I just wanted to calm the minds down,” said Clutterbuck.

Whether or not it was Clutterbuck’s words that made the difference, the Isles hung on by the skin of their teeth as the Rangers pressured for the game-tying goal. 

While the captain is typically known as the team leader, sometimes it takes a different voice to catch the team's attention.

If the Isles make it to the postseason they’ll rely heavily on their leadership and experience from postseason's past. Sometimes it’s the hottest team, not the best team that makes the most noise in the playoffs, and right now the Islanders are one of the league's hottest.