The first box on Lou Lamoriello's massive to-do list has been checked, and in an extraordinary way.
Barry Trotz, who led the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup earlier this month, has agreed to become the head coach of the Islanders. According to the game's top insiders like Elliotte Friedman and Darren Dreger, the deal is for five years at around the $4 million-plus annually it was expected would be the minimum Trotz would require.
Adults -- experienced, accomplished, highly-qualified adults -- are in charge of the New York Islanders.
In a matter of weeks, the Islanders have gone from a fraternity of directionless bros to having one of the most impressive GM-Coach combinations in pro sports.
While that does not guarantee championships, or even success, it establishes that the Islanders are back in play -- that they are doing everything in their power to win championships.
The hiring of Trotz also impacts whether John Tavares re-signs. Again, no guarantees, but the chances have increased now. The idea of Tavares talking to other teams next week is a scary one, but now if he does, he goes into those meetings knowing the Islanders are a serious organization again.
What a time for the Islanders. Congratulations go out to Lou Lamoriello for getting his man, but also to owner Scott Malkin. It was Malkin who finally decided he couldn't ignore the embarrassing perception of his franchise, who couldn't ignore the united voice of the fans. Malkin hired Lamoriello, which led to the hiring of Trotz and possibly many more significant moves.
Within seconds of the Trotz news hitting, I was texted a clip by a friend from The New York Times of Nov. 18, 2010. Garth Snow had my media credentials taken away, and at the time some people were theorizing what I must have written that led to it. Richard Sandomir of the Times wrote this in his article entitled "Struggling Islanders Revoke Blogger's Credentials":
"On his blog Tuesday, Botta wrote that 'one of these days the Islanders have to start running the franchise like a professional outfit - not a mom-and-pop store where a few good friends make decisions and tell themselves they can't wait to prove everybody wrong ... one of these years!'"
Thankfully, those days are finally over. The country club has been closed. Credibility has been restored to the New York Islanders.