March 3, 2024

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Islanders hire Patrick Roy as coach after firing Lane Lambert: Why New York made a change

Islanders hire Patrick Roy as coach after firing Lane Lambert: Why New York made a change

Patrick Roy is back behind the NHL bench.

The New York Islanders named a Hall of Fame goalie head coach on Saturday, firing Lane Lambert in his second season with the team. The Islanders are on a four-game losing streak and are two points out of the Eastern Conference playoff spot.

President of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced the decision, but did not indicate the length of Roy's contract. Roy's first appearance as coach of the Islanders — and his first game as an NHL coach since 2016 — could come Sunday at home against the Dallas Stars.

“Patrick Roy was the only person I was interested in,” Lamoriello told reporters on a conference call on Saturday.

The Islanders' season has begun to wind down after a promising, if inconsistent, start. Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks — who have the second-fewest points in the league — was the last straw for Lamoriello, whose team has gone 2-6-2 in its last 10 games. Lambert's group was plagued by injuries but the Islanders still managed a 12-4-4 record to put themselves in a good playoff position. The current bracket has the Islands ranked sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 11th in the East. But Lamoriello feels the season can be salvaged.

Roy has been itching to get back to the NHL bench ever since he left the Colorado Avalanche after the 2015-16 season. He has been the coach and general manager of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the past five seasons. Roy had two coaching stints with the Remparts from 2005 to 2013 and from 2018 to 2023. During the 2022-23 season, Roy coached the Remparts to the club's third Memorial Cup title. He resigned as coach and general manager of the Remparts after winning the Memorial Cup.

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Roy coached the Avalanche from 2013 to 2016. During his tenure, he posted a record of 130-92-24, making the playoffs once (2013-14). Roy stepped down on August 11, 2016, before being replaced by current Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.

Lamoriello doesn't have a deep roster of former players and teammates to rely on when searching for a coach, and he famously stepped out of his comfort zone to hire Barry Trotz for the Islanders in 2018. Now, with Roy, he's found another legend who isn't from Lamoriello's inner circle. Hoping to give this team the needed jolt.

But there are a lot of problems that Roy has to work on. The Islanders have blown 12 leads of two or more goals this season, with a 5-1-6 record in those games. However, that hasn't happened in over a month and now the problems are becoming more apparent: This team is allowing the second-most shots on goal in the league (35.3 per game) and the third-most scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances. In the league. Plus the kill penalty is ranked 28th. There's not a lot of changes that can be made, so Roy will have to come up with some ideas to change the defensive mentality and level of competition.

As a player, Roy is one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. He played 11 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and eight with the Avalanche, winning a Stanley Cup with each franchise. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy three times.

In 1,029 games played, Roy went 551-315-131 with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Vezina Trophy winner.

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Lambert, 59, succeeded Trotz as Islanders coach on May 16, 2022. His record with the Islanders in 127 games was 61-46-20.

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(Photo: Doug Bensinger/Getty Images)