DALLAS — Barry Trotz has gone from lifting the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals to coaching the New York Islanders in just two weeks.
Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello hired Trotz on Thursday, three days after he resigned from the Capitals, and gave him the kind of long-term security Washington wouldn’t.
Immediately scooping up an accomplished, Cup-winning coach is the Islanders’ latest step to try to keep face of the franchise John Tavares, who can become a free agent July 1.
“If you know anything about Lou Lamoriello, his background and what he does, he will do what it takes to win,” Trotz said on a conference call.
“I felt strongly that once Lou gets with John … Lou’s going to execute a plan, a long-term plan that will be very successful so we can chase the Stanley Cup and win a Stanley Cup.”
Trotz’s new deal is reportedly worth double what he would have made annually on an automatic extension that kicked in with the Capitals and five years instead of two.
The 55-year-old Trotz, who helped Washington win the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons and then the Cup, didn’t feel Washington was willing to increase his salary and decided to take a chance to leave.
Lamoriello and the Islanders called almost right away, getting a deal done with Trotz before the draft begins Friday night and with time to spare before Tavares can talk to other teams about a contract. Trotz has already spoken to Tavares and said the situation “is in good hands” with Lamoriello, a three-time Cup-winning GM with New Jersey who also helped turn Toronto back into a playoff team.
“If you know anything about those two parties, they are of the highest integrity, both of those gentlemen,” Trotz said of Lamoriello and Tavares. “I think that they’ll have great dialogue and we’re hoping to have John be a part of it, for sure.”
In the past 40 years, Trotz is just the fifth coach not to return to a Stanley Cup winner and the first since Scotty Bowman retired after winning with Detroit in 2002. Mike Keenan in 1994 was the last coach to leave a Cup champion in a contract dispute when he did not return to the New York Rangers.
Trotz has the fifth-most wins of any coach in NHL history and led Washington to finish first in the regular season in 2015-16 and 2016-17. After consecutive early playoff exits, the Capitals let him go into the final year of his contract without an extension, in large part because he had never made it past the second round.
Under Trotz, the Capitals won their first title in franchise history this season, which triggered a clause in his contract that gave him a $300,000 raise to about $2 million for the next two seasons.
General manager Brian MacLellan said a long-term contract and Trotz’s representative wanting to have him paid among the top four or five coaches in the NHL were sticking points, and Trotz asked for and was given his resignation Monday.
“I went to the Caps and said: ‘You know, it’s a little unfair based on value around the league. Just tell me if anything could be done,’” Trotz said. “When I got the response, I knew it was time to go in a different direction.”
The Islanders gave Trotz what he wanted, putting him in a salary class just behind Toronto’s Mike Babcock, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville and Montreal’s Claude Julien but ahead of most of the rest of the league. Babcock set the bar for coaches with his 2015 deal worth $50 million over eight years, an average annual salary of $6.25 million.
Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press