On the day after, as the Islanders turn the page after the most soul-sucking moment for the club and Country in this century, some thoughts as we await Lou Lamoriello's next move…
Lamoriello did not agree to run the Islanders because he was convinced Tavares was staying with the team
Take this to the bank: Lamoriello's decision to tackle this major project did not come down to whether one great player was going to re-sign with his team. His life in the game has always been about the image of "team," not "individual" accomplishments. If anything, Tavares' defection should only further energize the new boss. If this is to be Lamoriello's final act in the game, what better way to close a magnificent career than with the complete exorcism of a team haunted by three decades of mismanagement?
Barry Trotz did not sign a five-year contract to become Islanders head coach with any assurance that Tavares was re-signing
Trotz joined the Islanders after breaking free from the Capitals because he wanted to get paid in line with the top coaches in the game, and Scott Malkin paid it. Would Trotz have preferred that his new team retained their centerpiece star? Of course. But Trotz knew there were no certainties. If anything, with the lineup as it currently stands, Trotz has an opportunity -- as he did in his early days with the Nashville Predators -- to show how he can coach the heck out of a team.
Lamoriello's Plan B needs to be practical, patient
With Tavares gone, the Islanders almost certainly will not win the Stanley Cup this season or next. With that in mind, and with Lamoriello's son, Chris, in position to possibly succeed him as GM, it reinforces the need to make smart, long-term moves instead of panic decisions just to contend for a wild card playoff position. Lamoriello has the opportunity to make the Islanders great within three years -- just as they move into their new arena in Elmont. It's a reasonable goal, and after all this time of dysfunction, few would complain about the wait.
But if they trade for a star, make sure there's a commitment
You might say this is "master of the obvious" stuff, but assume nothing. Should the Islanders decide to move up the timeline and give up the significant assets it would take to add stars like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson -- both potential UFAs on July 1, 2019 -- they should not make the trades without signing the player to a contract extension. The Islanders cannot go through another drama like the Tavares departure again.