On the Big Daddy & Friends show hosted by Rich Salgado, New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz discussed his tight-knit team and life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trotz spent plenty of time talking hockey and coaching, but he also let Salgado in on his personal life. The coach misses hockey and being behind the bench, for sure, yet he seems to be keeping busy. Since Trotz is taking a bit of time to relax, he’s been able to focus more on family time with his wife and son.
Barry Trotz on working with Stanley Cup-winning GM Lou Lamoriello
Lou Lamoriello was a long-tenured general manager for the New Jersey Devils, presiding over all of their championship seasons. Now, he’s the GM and president of hockey operations for the Isles.
Trotz praised Lamoriello’s diverse hockey background, and noted how his immense experience in a variety of roles has helped create a united organizational front.
“Lou is exceptional,” Trotz said. “Lou has been a coach, a director at a university, AD, he’s coached internationally, he’s coached in the NHL some games, but he’s managed in the NHL. He’s been a big part of it. But he understands what coaches go through.”
Barry Trotz on the Islanders’ summer BBQ bubble
As part of the Eastern Conference, the Isles’ bubble venue for the Stanley Cup playoffs was in Toronto. It’s not too far of a trip from New York, but the Islanders acclimated themselves to that environment well in advance.
According to Trotz, many team members even bonded over barbecue in a makeshift bubble prior to hitting the ice for the August 1 restart.
“We had to form our own bubble within our own community, and that’s in Long Island,” Trotz said. “We had supper at my house almost every night, barbecuing in the summer. It worked out fine, and a lot of the players did the same thing, where they all met at one or two places and they’d have a barbecue every night.”
Trotz lives in Garden City, Long Island, and he said a lot of the players that were in town and coaching staff stayed together. That only went further to unite a club that would go on to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Because the Isles advanced so deep in the postseason, they actually wound up moving bubble sites to Edmonton, so the unique summer proved all the more invaluable.
How Barry Trotz managed Overlook Hotel vibes in the NHL bubble
The bubble hotels were empty except for the NHL players and personnel, and Trotz noted how that made for a bit of an eerie atmosphere.
“You could go downstairs and see one person in the lobby, and that was the person behind the desk,” Trotz said. “I made a joke that I think I saw a little girl riding a bicycle down the end of the hallway, like The Shining.”
Still, being alone together through such extraordinary and bizarre circumstances turned out to be a rallying point for the team to get tighter. The Isles even held a team ping pong tournament to add some levity.
“Our team is so close, which is a real advantage to us, but it really helped some of the new players. Andy Greene became a bigger part of our team, [Jean-Gabriel] Pageau, Ilya Sorokin, who came over but was ineligible to play. It was fantastic for those guys to experience that.”
Sounds like the Islanders made out better in an isolated hotel than Jack Nicholson’s tennis ball-throwing, mad caretaker character in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film.
Barry Trotz welcomes more family time amid COVID-19
“Life is not normal right now,” the Islanders head coach said, but “we have to get used to what the year has given us.”
With that outlook as a framework, Trotz has a new routine for the first time in a long time. He would typically be in the swing of hockey season by now. However, this new normal in 2020 has given Trotz the opportunity to incorporate more family time into his day.
Yes, there are Zoom calls, including a “Coach’s Cafe” meeting where the staff discusses how to improve their skills and better do their jobs. But after some coaching and administrative work in the morning, Trotz reserves the afternoons for the family.
“In the afternoon, it was [my] wife…projects that she gave me, and projects that I put off. So getting those caught up,” Trotz said. “And then, I have a special needs son, so trying to do some of those things with him after school.”
Trotz used that father-son time to get some fitness in for the both of them, whether it was on the family trampoline or using their tandem bicycle. It’s all about being current and sticking to his regular routine, Trotz said. Family and hockey, no matter what.