What the NY Islanders’ Patrick Roy hire tells us about Lou Lamoriello’s future.

Does ownership still have confidence Lamoriello can turn the Islanders around?
New York Islanders Training Camp
New York Islanders Training Camp / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NY Islanders recently made their 10th midseason coaching change by swapping head coach Lane Lambert for Patrick Roy on January 20th. This decision was made for a multitude of reasons, but first and foremost the underperformance of a team with playoff aspirations. We can debate the merits of Lambert's coaching style, whether pivoting from the Barry Trotz-style of defense towards a more offensive-minded system was the right decision with this roster. We can also ponder the lineup decisions, including his handling of Oliver Wahlstrom. Regardless, Lambert's coaching style was not working. As Lou Lamoriello said, "The inconsistency that has been going on for some period of time was not going to end".

While there is plenty of blame to go around for the team standing 5th-place in the Metropolitan Division, all decisions made for players and personnel begin at the top. Suffice it to say, Lamoriello's offseason was lackluster at best, with none of their free-agent signings exceeding expectations. The Islanders have an older roster and have been without a first-round pick since 2019. The team's top prospects are still years away, meaning the salary-strapped Islanders may have to move more assets to clear cap space. Trotz's replacement was fired only 127 games into his head coaching career. With these factors taken into consideration, is there any indication Lamoriello is on the hot seat?

The Roy hire means Lamoriello will return in 2024-25.

During the offseason, the Islanders' ownership team led by John Ledecky and Scott Malkin rewarded Lamoriello with a new contract, reportedly in the three- year range. While many fans were frustrated, we could also not be surprised as Lamoriello was allowed to trade more draft and prospect capital for Bo Horvat at last season's trade deadline. Had he been fired at the end of 2022-23, the new general manager would be inheriting a roster full of franchise-altering decisions that had already been made. The new GM would also have very little cap space to work with given the contracts handed out the past few off-seasons.

Roy's hire is our first indication Lamoriello will be returning for the 2024-25 season. If a new general manager were to be considered, a head-coaching change midseason would only be made if the new coach was considered "acting" or "temporary". The most recent local example of this is when the New York Giants fired Ben McAdoo midway through the 2017 season and named Steve Spagnuolo a temporary head coach. Following the season, Giants GM Jerry Reese was subsequently fired, leaving a coaching vacancy for the new GM to fill. In the case of the Islanders, this would be promoting assistant coach John MacLean with an open-ended job title. This would give the next GM leeway to hire a coach of their own volition.

There are very few circumstances in which a new regime has inherited a coaching staff already in place without assurance they can make a change. The only example of this is when the New York Jets fired Mike Tannenbaum after the 2012 season and hired John Idzik with Rex Ryan already in place for the 2013 season. Ownership decisions like this have proven to be incompetent and take away an executive's authority to frame the organization at their choosing. Had Lamoriello been on the hot seat, a permanent head coach in Roy would not have been given a contract 45 games into the season.