Lou Lamoriello said he accepts responsibility for the New York Islanders’ recent struggles and will continue to try to improve the team ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.
“There’s no excuses. Because it’s on me, totally on me,” the Islanders general manager said Wednesday. “That’s my responsibility to make us the best we possibly can, to make whatever changes we can. That’s not on the coaching staff, that’s not on the players, and I take that responsibility. It’s making it happen. There’s a lot of reasons why sometimes you can and you can’t, and those are decisions you have to make. But I take full responsibility for whatever changes are or are not made.”
The Islanders (23-21-5) are on a five-game skid (0-3-2) heading into their game at the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7 pm ET; SN1, TVAS, MSGSN, ESPN+). They’ve lost nine of their past 10 games (1-6-3) after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season coming off appearances in the 2020 Eastern Conference Final and 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals. They are five points behind the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for the two wild cards into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, but there are two teams (Buffalo Sabers and Florida Panthers) between them and the Capitals and Penguins.
“I think that if we can make ourselves better, whether it had been yesterday or the day before or today or tomorrow, we will definitely do that,” Lamoriello said.
“You have to make sure that whatever you add is not subtracting. I think if you look throughout the National Hockey League you see the exact same thing.”
Before the skid started with a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 5, the Islanders held the second wild card, two points behind the New York Rangers and Capitals.
“I think there’s always an urgency,” Lamoriello said. “That shouldn’t change. I think I go back to if you can make your team better, you make it better, whether you’re going good or you’re not going good. You have to make it better with what you have available to do and also what your partner, that is the trading partner, wants to make it happen.”
Scoring has been an issue, with the Islanders totaling 17 goals in their past 10 games dating to Jan. 4. They are tied with the Senators for the fewest goals in the NHL in that span.
“Your goal-scorers have to score,” Lamoriello said. “And during this drought, our goal-scorers were not scoring. That’s the key. … There’s no apologies, there’s no excuses for them. These things happen. Unfortunately all of them got into a little bit of a drought at the same time. “
Forwards Anders Lee and Brock Nelson lead the Islanders with 17 goals each. Lee had one goal in nine games before scoring twice in a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Nelson had gone 14 games without a goal before scoring in consecutive games on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21. Forward Zach Parisewho’s third on the Islanders with 13 goals, has four goals in his past 18 games.
Asked about whether he could or should have done more in the construction of the team during the offseason, Lamoriello said, “At that given time, if you could have made the team better, you do that.
“Have I lost the trust and belief in the team? Absolutely not. I still believe the way I did in the beginning of the summer.”