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New York Islanders

Patrick Roy Already Breathing Life Back Into Islanders



AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Elmont, NY– Typically, when a team hires a new head coach, it takes a little while for any noticeable change to become visible.

That wasn’t the case for the New York Islanders in their 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in their first game under Patrick Roy on  Sunday night.

Although there wasn’t any clear difference in the Islanders from a tactical standpoint, there certainly was emotionally.

“I’ll use the phrase ‘culture shock,’ Matt Martin said. “It’s a change. In a lot of ways, things got turned upside down. He’s got a different style and different energy. He’s very passionate. He’s won a lot in this league and is one of–if not the–greatest players at his position, so he carries a lot of weight.”

Roy’s presence was evident from the moment he took the ice at the team’s morning skate and only got bigger as the game started.

From the opening draw, Roy came as animated as advertised behind the bench, possibly burning more calories than some of the players while he paced back and forth.

At each and every Islander mistake, he threw his hands up in ire. When Bo Horvat scored the winning goal 41 seconds into overtime, Roy pumped his fist high above his head.

“You can tell he’s enthusiastic and cares a lot about what he’s doing and wants us to have success as a group,” Martin said. “He’s voiced it being a partnership from the beginning, and we’re all in this together. It’s a different vibe. I think it came at a good time. Obviously, we need to win games and win games now, so this was a good start.”

The win for the Islanders was the first step in the long uphill road they’ll face the rest of the year. At 20-15-11, they’ve already dug themselves into a considerable hole. But as far as Roy’s concerned, they’re starting from ground zero.

“It’s what we’re going to do from now on that matters,” Roy said. “We know that we put ourselves in a bit of a hole, and we need to win games. It’s playoff hockey for us. Sometimes, you win some ugly ones. Tonight was not the perfect way we wanted to play, but we found ways to win. That’s what a good team does.”

Surely, the emotional high Roy is providing at the moment can’t be the only thing that changes for the Islanders, but it will be critical for everything else to take shape.

“I think at some point I have to let the players play the game and be themselves,” Roy said. “It’s their moment. You want to have that intensity, but I think they know that I’m here to win, and they know that I’m going to be there for them.”

Roy’s philosophy instantly resonated with Mathew Barzal.

He was already having a stellar season as the Islander’s leading point scorer before Roy arrived and is only more invigorated after tallying two assists in Roy’s Islanders debut.

“He wants me to be me,” Barzal said. “I need to play with some fire in my game. That’s when I’m playing my best, and he immediately brings fire to the room. A match made in heaven sounds a little bit romantic, but I think it could be a great duo.”

Roy agreed.

Now that he’s on board, there’s life back within the Islanders and himself.

“I love it,” Roy said. “I have so much respect for this game. This game has been so good to me. I’m very thankful, and I really appreciate this opportunity. I could not ask for a better situation at this period of my life. This is what makes me feel alive.”




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