When Mathew Barzal was benched, many Islanders fans were taken aback by the move made by head coach Barry Trotz, however, this stern discipline has helped mold a culture of equality in the locker room. By benching star forward Mathew Barzal, Barry Trotz sent a message to every single Islander in the locker room. That message was that it does not matter whether you are Barzal or Matt Martin, if you are not playing well, you’ll just simply not play.
This type of culture was much needed for the Islanders, as before Barry Trotz came, it was as if the star players were placed on a pedestal above the determined, gritty players which are also needed on a successful team. Clearly, this type of culture change has worked, as the results since Barry Trotz took over as Isles coach has been astounding. Success is the goal in the NHL, and many teams throughout the league prioritize their stars well-being rather than creating a winning culture where everyone feels equal.
This type of coaching makes it hard for rifts to form in the locker room, as every player should be each other’s motivation to work harder to earn more ice time. Take for example the comparison of Mathew Barzal to Matt Martin. While one would agree that talent-wise Barzal is a far superior player in regards to Martin, the feeling of being on the same playing field with an All-Star can boost a player’s morale, and help them find that next level in their game.
Along with providing a clear motivational boost, this type of coaching style also helps provide accountability. In his post-game interview, Barzal could have sulked and complained at Trotz’s decision, although he used his time to take responsibility for his actions and apologize for his gameplay.
While hockey players aren’t the most personable characters in the sports world, many athletes will not stray from speaking their mind where they see fit. This type of maturity shown by Barzal has helped prove the level of progression he has made as a young athlete. In no way should Trotz’s decision be met with any criticism, as he is just doing what any good coach should do, teach his young players to play with passion.
These actions by Barry Trotz has helped show all Islander fans that the management running the Isles is one that can be trusted. This relief is great for all fans of the Long Island team, as the past two years, Islanders fans have been able to do something that they weren’t able to do with the last regime. Have faith in management.