Barry Trotz is eager for his second season as coach of the New York Islanders to get underway after having more time to re-energize and prepare as opposed to a year ago.
"Obviously, a lot more comfortable, a lot more relaxed," Trotz told NHL.com. "Last year was a whirlwind, winning the Cup [with the Washington Capitals] and then all the things that go with that, and then making the change.
"My family stayed back in D.C. until I think the third week of November. I was in an empty house with a bed and a TV. No furniture."
That didn't prevent Trotz from winning the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL for the second time in four seasons after guiding the Islanders to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division (48-27-7). New York swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.
In a wide-ranging interview with NHL.com, Trotz discussed his first season in New York, the signing of captain Anders Lee to a seven-year contract and the future of forwards Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang.
How crazy was it for you last summer after being named coach of the Islanders?
"My oldest daughter got married, she had a wedding in Hawaii and a reception in Nashville, and in between I had a Cup date in Dauphin, Manitoba. And then I'm trying to find a house to live in and getting to know the organization. All of that was in within probably a 40-day window. I showed up a couple of days before rookie camp, and the first time I got together with all of my coaches was (September) 4th or 5th. We started three days later. It was hectic."
How did things come together so quickly?
"Part of the greatness of being on the Island is it's a smaller community; all of the players live within a couple miles of each other. It really promotes that family sort of atmosphere without being engulfed by the big city. I didn't know anything about that. Obviously, I had a pretty good pedigree going in there after winning the Cup. They had a real good base in terms of they're really good people, and that's where you start. We had the buy-in that we were going to be better in terms of our preparation, our structure, we were going to clean up the defensive part of our game, because it couldn't get any worse from what everybody was telling me, and the stats backed that up. That team was really close on and off the ice. A lot of guys in my exit interviews said it was the one of the most pleasurable years in terms of fun, the type of guys that we had and how we promoted that."
Video: How the Blues and Islanders had success last season
You have essentially the same forward group returning from last season. How big of an opportunity will training camp provide for young forwards Michael Dal Colle and/or Joshua Ho-Sang?
"Huge. One of the things I think you're always conscious of is we're in the winning business. One of the things you don't want to do is always fill your spots and not allow potential guys to grow. Right now, there's some spots open. I think last year, Michael Dal Colle was a guy that a lot of people were saying, 'You know, I don't know if he's going to be able to play in the National Hockey League.' Now, I think he's getting it. He's looking like a player that's going to play in the National Hockey League and be very effective. He's got good hands, he's a big body (6-foot-3, 204 pounds), he's got his pace into his game and I think he's got his confidence back. Sometimes, you don't want to block a guy [from] making that next step. There's opportunity for Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, and even guys like [Oliver] Wahlstrom, he's got fantastic hands, and that release is probably at the top end. He's was one of the better players in the playoffs (for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League), so I'm interested to see how he does as well. There's opportunity this year for a number of guys."
Video: NYI@ARI: Ho-Sang cashes in from a difficult angle
It was reported that Lane Lambert was a finalist to become coach of the Anaheim Ducks. Are you excited to have him back as an assistant for another season?
"Yes and no. I expected fully that I was not going to have Lane. In some ways, we were preparing for Lane's departure with bringing in Jim Hiller. It was a big learning process, so having Lane last year was huge. I fully expected that he was going to be moving on; I thought by far he was the best candidate. I was disappointed he didn't get the Anaheim job, but at the same time, I was thrilled that he's back because I know how good he is with our group. His time is coming; he'll be on everybody's short list, I'm very sure."
How happy are you to have your captain, Anders Lee, in the fold for another seven years?
"Very happy. One of the things you look for is leadership, and it comes in different forms. There's vocal leaders, there's quiet leaders, there's leaders that lead by example. Anders is one of those guys that is very well respected. He's not always a rah-rah guy. I think he's a guy that will grab a guy to the side or the group and say, 'Hey, we're better than this, let's get this done.' I thought Anders did a great job transitioning from [John Tavares], who was a pretty dynamic captain. The way Anders went about the captaincy last year I think really won a lot of respect from everybody around him. He had everybody's respect anyways, but he didn't change, he just did it his way."
Video: Lee signs seven-year extension with Islanders