LAS VEGAS -- One year ago, Barry Trotz bet on himself by walking away from the Washington Capitals after coaching them to their first Stanley Cup championship.
The decision paid off for him when he won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of year with the New York Islanders at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday.
"It's a team award," Trotz said. "I had an incredible group to work with this year: Lane Lambert, John Gruden, Scott Gomez, obviously my goalie department, Mitch Korn and Piero Greco, and then our video guys, Matt (De Mado) and Corey (Smith), did a fantastic job making sure we were prepared every night. And we just had an incredible group of dedicated young athletes that were invested, and you have to be invested to have success."
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Trotz noted that Las Vegas has been a city of good fortune for him. He won the Cup here with the Capitals when they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018.
"It is, unless I gamble," Trotz said. "I don't have any fortune or luck with that, but it's been a real great ride coming to Vegas."
Yet, Trotz chose to resign from the Capitals on June 18, 2018, after being unable to agree on a new contract with them.
"I was going step away from the game a little bit. That was my intention," Trotz said. "I felt certain things needed to be a little different and I made a stand. … I was going to just take some time and I was betting on myself."
Video: Barry Trotz is presented the Jack Adams Award
Trotz wasn't out of work for long, though. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, who was hired on May 22, 2018, quickly talked him into filling New York's coaching vacancy, hiring him on June 21.
"Once I ended talking to Lou, it was him. He convinced me. He convinced me just talking to him," Trotz said. "I never lost any passion for the game or anything like that. I just thought I was going to take some time and he convinced me that I could do something on [Long Island] and he needed someone like me, I guess, that he could get it done."
Trotz ended up coaching New York to one of the biggest turnarounds in the League.
Despite losing captain John Tavares, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent on July 1, 2018, the Islanders (48-27-7) finished fifth in the NHL with 103 points, a 23-point increase from 2017-18, and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016.
They did it with a commitment to team defense and strong goaltending from Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss. After finishing last in the League with 293 goals against in 2017-18, the Islanders allowed a League-low 191 goals this season, becoming the sixth team in NHL history to allow at least 100 fewer goals than the previous season and the second (after the 1918-19 Ottawa Senators) to allow the fewest goals immediately following a season when yielding the most.
"There wasn't a selfish bone in our room, which was tremendous," Trotz said. "Hopefully, we set a real good foundation for what people should expect on [Long Island] from the New York Islanders."
Trotz, 56, is 810-595-141 with 60 ties in 20 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Capitals and Islanders. His 810 wins are fourth in League history behind Scotty Bowman (1,244), Joel Quenneville (890) and Ken Hitchcock (849).
It is the second time he has won the Jack Adams Award, getting the honor after guiding the Capitals to the Presidents' Trophy, which is awarded to the League's top team in the regular season, in 2015-16.
"This one has a lot more to it just because of the group that we had," Trotz said. "The expectations were probably not very good at the start of the season, based on our summer, and coming in really late and not knowing what I was getting into from a standpoint of not knowing the personnel very well. But I had a lot of trust in Lou Lamoriello. I wanted an opportunity to work with one of the best of all time, and I got to and I see why he is."