The removal of Barry Trotz from the New York Islanders bench provided more questions than answers. General manager Lou Lamoriello’s decision impacts other members of the coaching staff, as the future of associate coach Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn on the island is up in the air.
Both are under contract for one more season, as was head coach Barry Trotz. Both also have been a part of Trotz’s coaching staff for quite some time.
Mitch Korn joined Trotz back in 1998, Trotz’s second year as the head coach of the Nashville Predators. Lane Lambert joined both for the 2011-12 season in Nashville, and since then, this threesome has been together.
Korn and Lambert have traveled with Trotz to three different teams, winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. There is a tremendous sense of loyalty there.
Will they be on the move again?
For those saying they can’t be on the move because they are under contract, that is not the case.
For the New York Islanders and every business, you want workers who want to be there. If Lambert and Korn do not wish to remain on the island, depending on where Trotz ends up, it’s in the Islanders best interest to let them go.
The situation with Lane Lambert is a bit interesting. The 57-year-old has never been a head coach at the NHL level but was the head coach for the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) from 2007 to 2011 before joining the big club Nashville Predators and Trotz.
Lambert has studied under Trotz, knows the system well, and could be the person Lamoriello elects to go with for at least this upcoming season. But there is one flaw in this plan, and it was the reasoning Lamoriello gave during his press conference on Monday.
“It is my role to make the best decisions for the organization going forward, and I believe that this group of players needs a new voice,” Lamoriello said.
So that begs the question. Is Lane Lambert considered a new voice?
Lambert has been a voice in the room since 2018. Although he did not have Trotz’s decision-making powers, you can bet that Trotz and the players valued his input.
Also, before the firing, Lane Lambert had been drawing interest. There’s a good chance that if the Islanders do not appoint him as head coach, he may be a front runner for a few head-coaching openings in the National Hockey League.
Look no further than the Detroit Red Wings.
Lambert and current Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman both made their NHL debuts with the Red Wings during the 1983-84 season and played parts of four years together before the New York Rangers acquired Lambert in 1987.
There’s a history there, and coming from the Trotz tree of coaching, he could be a perfect fit for a team on the rise.
But if Lamoriello considers Lambert a new voice, Lambert understands the system in place and can put his own spin on it to allow for a little more offensive leeway. The Islanders are built for the Trotz system and have been geared towards that system for the last four years.
Certain players like Adam Pelech, to name one, was a solid defenseman that grew into elite defenseman in the Barry Trotz system. For a player like Pelech, a more looser system won’t destroy his game, but it might not allow him to focus just on the defensive side of the puck.
Along with Piero Greco, Mitch Korn has played an integral role in developing 26-year-old netminder Ilya Sorokin since he came to the franchise during the 2020 Canadian bubbles.
Sorokin has made impressive strides, going from a prospect to one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in a span of two seasons.
So far in the NHL, Sorokin owns a .923 SV% with a 2.33 GAA and 10 shutouts in 74 appearances.
Like any coach, there’s a philosophy in place. For goaltenders, creatures of habit, the last thing you want to do with a goaltender on the right trajectory is make drastic changes.
Current goaltending coach Piero Greco came to the New York Islanders with Lou Lamoriello from Toronto. He will not be going anywhere, which means that Sorokin will still have a familiar voice by his side regardless of Korn’s decision.