The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are still several months away at this point, but we now know Islanders fans will see at least one familiar face when the games open.
As announced by Hockey Canada on Monday morning, Isles head coach Barry Trotz will officially be behind the bench for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics, serving as an assistant coach. He’ll work with head coach Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay Lightning) and fellow assistants Bruce Cassidy (Boston Bruins) and Peter DeBoer (Vegas Golden Knights).
This is a “hypothetical” scenario, I suppose, being that NHL players technically haven’t been given the green light to participate in the Olympics just yet. However, my first thought seeing this is that this has to be a good omen when it comes to players participating in the Olympics again. It’s been nearly eight years since NHL players were allowed to participate in the Olympics, and it would definitely be fun to see the league’s best battling it out overseas for the gold once again.
Secondly, that coaching staff is about as elite as it gets. Every coach on Canada’s bench has gotten their team to the final four within the past three seasons, and in the cases of Cooper and Cassidy, even reaching the Cup Finals. With that said, the head coaching job likely came down to the choice between Cooper and Trotz, and there was certainly no wrong answer. Both are top-tier coaches in the league today, and have even combined to take home three of the previous four Stanley Cups (Trotz in 2018 with Washington, Cooper the past two seasons with Tampa).
Trotz and Cooper have experience on the international stage as well. Starting with Trotz, he served as an assistant coach for Canada at the IIHF World Championships in 2002, 2003 and 2009, taking home gold in ‘03 in Finland and silver in ‘09 in Switzerland. He also served as an assistant with Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, who won gold. Cooper has a solid international coaching history as well. He also took part in the World Cup of Hockey, serving as an assistant for the dynamic and exciting Team North America. He was also an assistant on Canada’s bench during the 2017 IIHF World Championships, winning silver.
The gap between these two is honestly so close it probably could’ve been decided by flipping a coin.
At the end of the day though, Canada opted to take Cooper instead. Considering he’s coming off two consecutive Stanley Cups, he definitely makes a compelling argument, even though it would’ve been awesome to see Trotz lead the way. It’s still fantastic to see him recognized in a role like this.
And who knows… maybe we’ll see some of his players joining his roster by the time the Games roll around.
Follow Carter on Twitter at @cbentivenga14