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Isles Feel Trotz 'Deserves' Jack Adams Nomination

The Islanders credit Trotz with creating winning culture, calm mentality around team

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

Barry Trotz doesn't just preach a "we over me" philosophy, he practices it too. 

That was evident on morning of April 26, when the Islanders coach wouldn't even entertain a question about a potential Jack Adams Award nomination. He asked reporters to keep the queries focused on the Islanders second-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Trotz was eventually named one of the three nominees, along with St. Louis' Craig Berube and Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper, later that night. Even if he doesn't want to talk about himself, the Islanders coach is worthy of a little league spotlight.   

In his first year with the Islanders, Trotz led the team to a 103-point season (a 23-point increase from 2017-18) as well as a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, up from seventh a year ago. 

He did it with defense, remaking the Islanders in his image during his first season on Long Island. Trotz instituted a new team structure, helping the Islanders go from allowing the most goals in the league in 2017-18 (296) to the fewest in 2018-19 (196) - the second team in NHL history to do so. 

"Having been in this room and spending the year with him I think without a doubt, he deserves to be in the conversation," Cal Clutterbuck said. "In most guys' opinion [in the room], he probably deserves to win it." 

The Islanders adopted Trotz's personality, as much as his defensive structure. The Isles felt like they became a more mature team under the veteran coach, who brought 20 years of experience, the 2016 Jack Adams and a Stanley Cup to the Isles bench. His calm demeanor has spread throughout the locker room and the Isles stayed even keeled through back-to-back shutout losses to Boston and Montreal, as well as a first round sweep over the Penguins. 

"Behind the bench [Barry] is never really hooting and hollering. When we're yelling at the refs he tells us to shut up and he keeps us pretty level headed on the bench," Matt Martin said. "That's kind of bled through our locker room. We never let the emotions really get the best of us."

Video: NHL Awards: Barry Trotz

"The biggest thing that he's brought to this room is the calmness under pressure," Clutterbuck said. "It's exhausting to ride the wave, especially in the playoffs. I think through the first series we all really saw what a benefit the even keel mentality can be as a group." 

That's not to say Trotz is a shrinking violet. He made his presence felt on day one of training camp, blowing down drills when players went offside, instituting pushups and laps for losing scrimmages or shootout relays. They may seem like small changes, but they add up to creating a new culture of accountability. 

"I think he wanted us to know what it was going to take to get somewhere," Cal Clutterbuck said. "We saw that last year, things were going well and then started not to go well and I don't think we had the same understanding and foundation of detail and work ethic. If it doesn't start from the first day then it sometimes can be hard to get it back. That first practice and the way training camp went really set us up for mentally being able to handle what was coming our way."

The Islanders credit Trotz for his meticulous preparation. The Isles don't often feel surprised when they hit the ice. 

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"He does a good job of communicating to the guys with what he wants. There's no grey area in our system," Eberle said. "He just makes it easy for us to understand it. Obviously with the presence that he has, he's won a Stanley Cup and he's third or fourth on the all-time winningest coaches, we have a lot of respect for him. He knows what he's talking about and we soak that in."

Under Trotz, the Islanders finished with their most points in the post-Cup era, clinched home-ice advantage for the first time since 1988 and swept a playoff series for the first time since 1983. 

That's what Trotz prefers to talk about instead of the individual accolades. That's just Trotz. The same coach who was admittedly uncomfortable with passing Al Arbour on the all-time wins list this season and wanted little fanfare of becoming the fourth coach to win 800 games. 

So while it's an honor to be up for his second Jack Adams, Trotz would rather not talk about it. He's more interested in team awards.

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