This promotion had been a long time in coming for Lane Lambert.
Working for two decades as an assistant coach after a six-year playing career in the NHL in the 1980s, the 57-year-old has worked at many levels within the North American hockey system.
Head coaching jobs in the American and Western Hockey Leagues eventually led to him joining Barry Trotz’s staff with the Nashville Predators in 2011.
For the next 11 years, the two were inseparable, with the head coach taking Lambert wherever he went as his top assistant.
That included three years in Nashville, four years and a Stanley Cup title with the Washington Capitals, and four seasons – plus two Stanley Cup semifinal appearances, with the New York Islanders.
“Barry and I have worked together for a long time and there’s so much he’s done that I’ve learned from,” Lambert said Monday. “I’ve been in that role where he’s been the head coach.
“And now it’s spinning for me.”
Lambert was promoted to succeed Trotz as the next head coach of the New York Islanders on Monday after president and general manager Lou Lamoriello relieved the third most successful coach in NHL history. .
“I just focused on doing the best job I could, whatever my role or position,” Lambert said. “You work hard and good things happen. It’s a privilege to be in the National Hockey League.
Although Trotz has not been heard from publicly, Lambert revealed that he has been in touch with his coaching mentor over the past tumultuous week.
“[Barry] told me he hoped I would get the job,” he said. “I spoke to him not too long ago and he used the words he was ‘thrilled’.”
These are certainly big shoes for Lambert to fill. Trotz took the Islanders from Eastern Conference bottom dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders before a 2021-22 campaign without the playoffs resulted in his dismissal.
In just four seasons with the team, he went 152-102-34. ranking third in franchise history in wins and second with 28 playoff wins behind the legendary Al Arbour. He is one of only three coaches in NHL history with at least 900 wins, ranking third all-time with 914 wins.
Still, the transition to Lambert provides a ton of familiarity given his close work with the organization and a largely unchanged roster over the past four years as associate head coach and interim head coach for two weeks. in January when Trotz was absent from the team. .
“It’s a huge plus, I’ve been here four years working with every individual,” Lambert said. “I think it gives us the advantage of being on track. We have a good relationship and I think a lot of players are happy that they have someone they know well.
Lambert added that he will speak with management this summer to formulate a game plan and the right direction to go in terms of fine-tuning this current roster that Lamoriello still seems to be confident in.
“The one thing that will never change,” he began, “is our identity of being a team that will be difficult to play against.”