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Saint Patrick To The Rescue

Holy Moly! Now that’s what we call a shake-up.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock these last couple of days, let me quickly fill you in. Late Saturday afternoon the New York Islanders announced they had relieved Head Coach Lane Lambert of his duties. That wasn’t too surprising. As much as Lambert was well-liked by his team, GM Lou Lamoriello needed to do something to try and spark the Islanders. And as the saying goes, “coaches are hired to be fired.”

Okay, now for the surprising aspect of that news. Lamoriello pressed the red button on his desk and delivered the nuclear option. He hired Hockey Hall of Famer, Patrick Roy. 

For those of you who may have forgotten, Roy was the Head Coach (and Vice President of Hockey Operations) for the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-16. During that time, Roy won the Jack Adams Award as The League’s top coach and then saw his team fall off a cliff the next two years before abruptly stepping down in August 2016. 

If that felt like a whirlwind, it was. And now, that whirlwind has blown its way to Long Island. 

However, there are a couple of key differences this time around that could help keep Patrick a Saint instead of a Hurricane. First, he’s only the Head Coach, with no extra front-office responsibilities. Second, he claims to have learned and been humbled by his time away from the NHL. Sure, the blustery fire that helped make Roy one of the greatest goaltenders of all time is still present. But now it’s more refined – we hope. 

Gone are the days of Roy trying to fight the opposing goaltender. (We wouldn’t put it past him to maybe get into a shouting match with an opposing coach though). As a Coach, he is more personable; at least according to what former NHLer Nick Holden told The Athletic. 

“Obviously growing up watching him and hearing stories, the way he had coached in junior, I thought he was going to be really, really hard and yelling lots and all that stuff, showing that passion that he always did,” Holden told The Athletic’s Peter Baugh. “I found out that, as a coach, toward us as players, he was the exact opposite. He was still very passionate and showed his passion and wanting to win and (helping) the organization win, but he was very personable and wanted to talk with guys and know guys’ opinions.”

Maybe Roy isn’t the second coming of John Tortorella. If he can turn his passion for the game into a solid vision for the Islanders to follow, who knows, maybe he’ll be able to turn their season around and get them into the playoffs. If his first game behind the bench was any indication, he certainly had the Isles motivated and playing harder. It didn’t hurt that you could hear his voice all the way up in the press box and on the 300-level of UBS Arena.

For now, he’s 1-0-0 in his new gig. But now that he’s on Long Island and Lambert is unemployed, who might be the next coach let go? I’ll give you a hint, the two most likely answers don’t require you to look too far. 

If Devils and Sabres fans have their way, Lindy Ruff and Don Granato will be the next coaches to join Lane Lambert on the unemployment line. But let’s see how things go between now and the Trade Deadline before we make any predictions about their jobs. 

In other – non-coaching – news, a new Hockey Podcast is set to debut next week. The NHL Wraparound podcast, starring former Rangers GM Neil Smith and former ESPN Production Executive Vic Morren is sure to be a must listen. Between the two of them, they have nearly 70 years of NHL expertise and plenty of stories to tell. And as I have been informed, they plan to use those stories and expertise to help break down today’s game. Sounds like fun for all.

Jumping over to a bit of a sports crossover, I’ve recently been asked by several fans how NFL players manage to deal with the frozen temperatures during playoff games. My answer, look at how NHL players casually stroll into the building before the Winter Classic or Stadium Series. Plenty of times you’ll see players wearing shorts and shirts that would be better suited for the Bahamas. So, they’re just a different breed. As far as I can tell NFL players and NHL players just have it in their DNA that they can withstand the freezing weather. 

Lastly, if you’re looking for some family fun, the NHL’s All-Star weekend is right around the corner and word has it that Quinn Hughes and Jack Hughes are on the same team. They’re affectionately being referred to as Team Hughes. Who knows, maybe one day Jack, Luke, and Quinn will all suit up in an NHL game on the same team. But for now, fans will have to settle for the two oldest brothers being on the same All-Star team.

photo by Drew King.

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