Before the game, Barry Trotz played it cool. Afterward, when it was the next order of business? It was clear the first-year Islanders coach was starting to feel the emotions building.
It will be a big day for Trotz when the Capitals come to Barclays Center on Monday night, the first time he is facing the team that he won a Stanley Cup with just last year while also receiving his championship ring. He was with Washington for four years, winning two Presidents’ Trophies before finally breaking out of the second round this past season and going all the way for the organization’s first championship.
“You’ve been trying to win a Stanley Cup since you’re 7 years old, and I got an opportunity to do it with a terrific organization and a terrific group of young men and athletes,” Trotz said after his current team beat the Hurricanes, 4-1, in Brooklyn on Saturday night. “That will always be very special.”
Trotz spent 15 years with the Predators before leaving for the Capitals in 2014-15, so he has an idea of what it’s like in an emotional game against a former team. He also thought it was going to be a little easier because it’s here, in what he called his “new hometown,” and not in Washington.
“I don’t know if it’s awkward, just a little bit weird,” Trotz said, “because there are so many good memories.”
The Islanders sent 22-year-old forward Michael Dal Colle back to AHL Bridgeport after he had played two games since his recall on Nov. 15. Dal Colle was the No. 5-overall pick in the 2014 draft, but has now played in six total NHL games.
“I think he’s come up, and he’s put in a role, more of a fourth-line role,” Trotz said. “He’s played probably a little higher in Bridgeport. So the role changes a little bit. I think when he comes up, he wants to get my trust, plain and simple.”
In a corresponding move, forward Tanner Fritz was recalled after he had played two games with the Islanders earlier in the season. Fritz got 8:24 of ice time centering a fourth line with Ross Johnston and Cal Clutterbuck.
Matt Martin missed his 10th straight game as the rugged winger recovers from the upper-body injury he suffered on Nov. 1. He skated again on Saturday morning, and is nearing a return.
“Getting real close,” Trotz said. “I think we’re within in striking range pretty soon.”
Casey Cizikas is also on track, Trotz saying that he is “doing his rehab” both on the off the ice for the lower-body injury suffered on Nov. 13. The integral fourth-line center was expected to miss 2-3 weeks.