New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz is the newest member of the NHL’s 800-win club.
The 56-year-old Winnipeg native became the fourth coach in league history to reach 800 career victories following New York’s 5-4 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
Trotz joins all-time leader Scotty Bowman (1,244 victories), Joel Quenneville (890) and Ken Hitchcock (842) in the exclusive club while leading the Isles (38-21-7) to one of the best records in the league this year.
The team’s performance in 2018-19 is a far cry from their 35-37-10 record last season, and Trotz is one of the main reasons — if not the reason — for New York’s turnaround.
Trotz’s system has pushed the Islanders to the top of the NHL’s list for fewest goals allowed, the second lowest shots on goal against, and the NHL’s best team save percentage.
Trotz, who guided the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season and is in a dog fight with the Caps in the race for first place in the Metropolitan Division, should be considered the front-runner for the Jack Adams Award given annually to the NHL’s best bench boss.
Who else is in the running for head coach of the year?
Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper has an embarrassment of riches but given the Lightning’s potential record-breaking run in 2018-19, you have to give him props for keeping the Bolts’ ultra-talented lineup motivated on a nightly basis.
Rod Brind’Amour has done a fine job in his first season as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal’s Claude Julien isn’t getting enough credit for the way he has guided the rebuilding Canadiens into the thick of the playoff race, and Buffalo’s Phil Housley gets a thumbs up for pulling the Sabres out of the basement of the league and making them respectable again.
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Trotz’s biggest competition for coach of the year, however, will come from the Western Conference.
Bill Peters has vaulted the Calgary Flames to the top of the standings in the west after coming over from Carolina in the off-season and will garner many votes for the Jack Adams.
But Trotz and Peters will be euchred if the Arizona Coyotes get into the playoffs. Rick Tocchet’s team is only three points out of a wild-card spot entering Thursday’s action and he would, hands down, be named coach of the year if the perennial doormats of the league earn a post-season spot for the first time since 2011-12.
With about a month left in the regular season, there’s a lot on the line — including head coach bragging rights.