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Wings' coaching search: Islanders hire assistant Lambert; Vegas fires DeBoer


The New York Islanders have hired longtime Barry Trotz assistant and right-hand man Lane Lambert to succeed him as coach.

Lambert was a former teammate of current Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, who also is searching for a new head coach after declining to bring Jeff Blashill back for an eighth season

Trotz was fired last week after the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in his four seasons behind the bench.

General manager Lou Lamoriello announced Lambert as Trotz’s replacement on Monday, a week after firing the Stanley Cup-winning coach who had one year remaining on his contract.

Lambert, 57, has worked on Trotz’s staff the past 11 years with Nashville, Washington and New York. He has a Stanley Cup ring from the Capitals’ title run in 2018, after which Trotz resigned and joined the Islanders.

Trotz was also replaced by an assistant then, when Todd Reirden was elevated to take over in Washington. He was fired after two seasons and two first-round playoff exits.

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Lambert is a native of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, who played in 300 NHL regular-season and playoff games in the 1980s and many more in the minors and Europe after that. He went almost immediately into coaching in 2002 as an assistant with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League.

Lambert stayed in the junior league, coaching Prince George for two seasons before making the leap to the AHL. Next season will be his 22nd in coaching at any level and seventh as a head coach.

Also Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights fired coach Peter DeBoer in the aftermath of missing the playoffs for the first time in their five-year franchise history.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon made the announcement and thanked DeBoer for his work with the organization, but also said the team was looking for a fresh voice roughly four months before training camp opens.

“The decision was made based on next year, the decision was not based on last year,” McCrimmon said during a news conference to discuss the firing. “I’m not going to be critical of Pete or point out specifics as to why this decision was made. I’ve got a lot of respect for Pete as a man, I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. These decisions are made for the future.”

The organization having a short leash on coaches is nothing new. DeBoer coached the Golden Knights for 21/2 seasons after being named in January 2020 to replace Gerard Gallant, who guided the team to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2017-18 and back to the playoffs in 2019.

Under DeBoer, they reached the playoffs the previous two years and lost one round before the Stanley Cup Final each time.

DeBoer was coaching his fourth NHL team after stints with Florida, New Jersey and San Jose. He took the Devils in 2012 and Sharks in 2016 to the final.

McCrimmon said he and McPhee will begin the process of hiring a new coach immediately and wouldn’t pigeonhole themselves into a category when it comes to a replacement.

“There’s good coaches that have varying backgrounds,” McCrimmon said. “We’ve had two good coaches; one guy’s a former player, one guy wasn’t. Both guys were effective at delivering the message. We’ll identify the people that we are interested in, and I don’t know if that’ll be eight days, 10 days, six days, I don’t know that. I’m sure we’ll look at a lot of names. There’s gonna be people that reach out to us, and we may include them as the people that we’re interested in, and there’s gonna be some real good people that reach out that we might not be interested in. But to speak to a specific candidate, it’s just not the right time to have that discussion.”

Vegas assistants Steve Spott and Ryan McGill were also dismissed. McGill was a member of the original coaching staff under Gallant. The team will retain assistants Ryan Craig and Misha Donskov, while goalie coach Mike Rosati will have the opportunity to interview with the new head coach.