The New York Islanders had a lackluster 2021-22 season. Their failures led to a coaching change, from soon-to-be Hall of Fame head coach Barry Trotz to his longtime assistant Lane Lambert. The Islanders did not make many additions, the main one being defenseman Alexander Romanov.
We caught up with Anders Lee at the 2022 New York Islanders charity golf outing as he spoke on the coaching change, his new teammate, his belief in the group, and more:
Anders Lee on Coaching Change
It was a shock to the outside world when Barry Trotz was relieved of his coaching duties shortly after the conclusion of the 2021-22 NHL season. It was a shock to the players as well.
“Anytime that something like that happens it’s always a bit of a shock, and you know, Barry was obviously so good to us for such a long time and got us into a position where we were close, and I think now it’s transitioning to Lane,” New York Islanders captain Anders Lee said.
When asked if Barry Trotz’s coaching style was a reason for the struggles, Lee did not blame him.
“We’re at a point now where we’re looking forward. But if you were to go back to last season, I think when we needed to play well, we didn’t, you know,” Lee said. “At the end of the day you have to perform, and there were times, moments where we didn’t do that, and we put ourselves behind the eight ball too early in the year, and then we were just chasing for a long period of time.
“So I don’t think that style of play is the reason why I think we didn’t perform and we needed to.”
Having a familiar voice in Lane Lambert does help with the transition.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone here and for Lane. I know he’s been looking forward to this opportunity,” Lee said. “I think just having that familiarity off the bat, it’s really nice. We’ve all played for Lane, and he knows he knows our group, so he’s gonna be able to get out of us what he needs and we’ll know where he’s coming from right off the start.”
As for what Lambert brings to the table:
“He holds guys to a high standard. He demands a lot from, you know, the penalty kill and the role that he takes with the guys, and it’s going to be no different with him behind the bench,” Lee said. “so it’s just the accountability and, you know, having trust in his players and his guys and expecting a lot from a group that has the ability to show that.
Anders Lee on His Team:
As Lou Lamoriello and Lane Lambert have been expressing, Anders Lee also has the utmost confidence in the Islanders.
“Our group is a strong group,” Lee said. “We just didn’t put it all together last year, and I don’t think that it was a personnel issue. You know, I think we just had a lot going on that kept us from performing the way we needed to, and we had to overcome quite a bit of big of a hole.”
“We didn’t have time to stumble any further than we already had early on. So when we did a couple of times later, it was kind of devastating.”
Although the goal is to always make the postseason and go far, this was the first time in quite a while that the New York Islanders had a full offseason, a time to give themselves a physical as well as a mental break.
“It was really important. I mean the last few years there’s been a lot of hockey being played, and guys had time to get their bodies in a good place. And after what last season was, a step away and to have a chance to regroup mentally I think you know, everyone’s coming in with a good headspace but also in a good position physically.”
“And that’s the beauty of all this. We get another crack at it in a couple of days here and get to start building on a whole new thing.”
Anders Lee on Alexander Romanov:
As mentioned, the New York Islanders brought in 22-year-old defenseman Alexander Romanov for the 13th pick at the 2022 NHL Draft. He has made a great first impression with Anders Lee.
“I got a glimpse of that [his personality] when we played a little ping pong. So I think he’s gonna be a good welcome addition…”
As for the physicality Romanov brings, “Yeah, I mean, it’s great, gets things going. It mixes it up, and that’s an easy thing to follow into. So you can’t have too many of those guys.”