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May 09, 2022

Head coach Barry Trotz fired by Islanders, Flyers might want to make a call

A big name may be available to the Flyers after Monday morning's shocker out of Long Island

In his end of season press conference last week, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher confirmed that a new coaching search was underway but that things were still early into the process.

He may want to speed things up.

In a move that sent a shock through the NHL Monday morning, the New York Islanders fired Barry Trotz as their head coach, instantly turning the 59-year old into the top free-agent bench boss on the market. 

Trotz led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in 2018, then left to take the reins of the Isles at a critical point in their history, when they lost star captain John Tavares to Toronto in free agency. 

He brought them immediate success, turning the club into a defensive powerhouse.

The Islanders reached the second round of the playoffs in the 2018-19 season, then beat the Flyers in seven to reach the Eastern Conference Finals inside the Toronto bubble in 2020 before losing to eventual Cup champion Tampa Bay. They fell a round shy of the Cup Final again in 2021 with the Lightning on the road to a repeat.

Throughout those three seasons, the Islanders' 506 goals allowed were the fewest in the league. They've also been one of the best penalty-killing teams the past two years at 84.0 percent, while the Flyers' PK has been in the basement during that span at 74.6 percent. 

New York missed the playoffs this season, going 37-35-10 for 84 points, but were banged up and forced to spend the entire first month of the schedule on the road because of construction delays to their new arena in Belmont Park.

Trotz still had a year remaining on his contract and despite a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, most would have assumed there'd be a bit of a longer leash here. But now this could very well be another team's gain.

Trotz has coached 1,812 regular-season games and has a career record of 914-670-168 through 15 years in Nashville and four each with the Capitals and Islanders. He's found success at every stop, playing to the strengths of his rosters, and instilling a defensive structure that, at minimum, has been a pain to play against.

And with the Flyers as they're currently constructed, well, they sure could use a guy like that.

"We just really struggled this year," Fletcher said last week. "We were defending all the time and that is something we have to look at. We were not exiting D-zone well enough. There are certainly things we have to look at in terms of our structure and our details. We didn't have the puck enough and when you defend all the time, bad things happen."

There are other established options out there for the Flyers to look at, John Tortorella and Paul Maurice possibly being two of them, but as long as Trotz is available, he'll probably stay the most popular name out there. 

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