A week ago, NHL.com posted its first “Trophy Tracker” piece in regards to who their panel of writers would choose as the Jack Adams Award winner at the midpoint of the season. The main focus was on the Florida Panthers’ Joel Quenneville and the outstanding job he’s done this year down in South Florida. The Panthers are currently third in the standings in the Discover Central Division. Quenneville in a vote by the panel received the most first-place votes as the unanimous winner.
You know who didn’t receive any votes for that nod? Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz. And while it might be small potatoes to the overall bigger picture — Trotz and the team have Stanley Cup aspirations after coming within two games of the playing for the silver chalice last summer — he should absolutely be a favorite to take home the award for the third time in six years.
“He’s very detailed, and he’s going to hold you accountable — those are the two biggest things he’s changed within our organization,” forward Matt Martin said in an interview with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. “But he also has good composure.”
With all due respect to all the other phenomenal coaches in the league, no one has been able to get more out of their team than Trotz. That’s been the common theme since he arrived on Long Island back in the summer of 2018.
Two years ago, he turned the Islanders from the worst defensive club in the league to the best, which helped contribute to the club’s goalies (Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss) being awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy. Last season after the COVID pause, he had the team ready to go for the challenge of playing in the bubble in Toronto. That preparation helped propel the team on their long postseason run.
What Trotz has been able to accomplish with his rag-tag bunch this year might be his best coaching job yet, and it’s taken place a COVID-induced, truncated environment.
Trotz once again has the Islanders atop the East Division and has them playing like the stoutest defensive team in the game. Under his tutelage and his system, the Isles have given up the fourth-least amount of goals in the league (73). He’s been able to get the most out of rookies Oliver Wahlstrom and Ilya Sorokin, both of whom have become the most impressive of the freshmen class in the NHL this year. Beyond the kids thriving, he’s also been able to get a lot out of his group from an offensive standpoint, a department many feel the Isles continue to lack in. According to the league’s website, the Islanders’ 98 goals for rank 13th among all teams.
Another challenge is now facing Trotz and his group with the news last week of his captain Anders Lee being done for the rest of the year. But just like he does, and how he’s implemented this same attitude to his team, they will forge on by committee.
That’s what a great coach does. And it’s a quality like that which makes Trotz one of the best — if not the best — behind the bench in the game.
There are still another 20-plus games left in this season, but Trotz has proven again he is deserving of being in the conversation for the Jack Adams. He has the Islanders succeeding again even after they keep being counted out.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Islanders’ g.m. Lou Lamoriello has one thing on his mind when it comes to next month’s trade deadline — making sure it’s the right fit for his squad. Lamoriello sat down with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and had this to say:
“We’re pretty comfortable with the people we have, the depth we have, because we are a team when you look at our scoring, it’s so spread out and it’s so balanced. But in saying that, and I said it earlier, we certainly will see what is available but we won’t make a trade just for the sake of making it happen.
“In other words, it has to be something that works for the team, that works with reference to the chemistry; it doesn’t upset the room, all the variables that to me are extremely important.”