NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The scene outside the Islanders’ dressing room Saturday morning looked a little bit like a family reunion centered around one person.
That would be Barry Trotz, who spent time catching up with nearly everyone he saw from the coaching staff to front office members to team staffers and the TV crew. Saturday’s 3-1 loss marked the first time the Islanders have faced the Predators since Trotz — the team’s coach from 2018-22 — started as Nashville’s general manager this summer.
So everyone involved was looking forward to the date.
“There’s lots of friendships,” Trotz said. “You go to teams, obviously me and [Islanders coach Lane] Lambert have been together a long time. All the friendships you make with trainers and management and all that, those are part of your life.”
Lambert — who joked that he’s now calling Trotz “GM Barry” — was on his staff in Nashville, Washington and Long Island before taking over when Lou Lamoriello dismissed Trotz after the 2021-22 season.
In four years coaching the Islanders, that was the only time under Trotz they missed the playoffs, including two runs to the NHL’s final four in 2020 and 2021.
“He was demanding as a coach, but very friendly as well as a person,” Matt Martin told The Post. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Trotzy. We loved playing with him. I wish we would’ve got the job done one of those two years. It’s something we’ll never forget.”
Trotz estimated Saturday was the first time he and Lambert had faced each other in a game since the early 1980s, when both were teenagers in the Western Hockey League.
Trotz spent the 2022-23 season on the sidelines before taking over the reins in Nashville from longtime GM David Poile, who had once hired him to coach the expansion Predators in 1998.
The 61-year-old is still getting used to the new job after spending the better part of four decades watching behind a bench.
“As a coach, you can have an effect of changing lines, deciding on your personnel, changing systematic things, doing things that affect, hopefully, the game and the result positively. And every 24, 48 hours, you get a result — a win or a loss,” Trotz said. “And you’re really married to the schedule.
“As a GM, you’re a little more removed. I miss the chaos and the emotion and the pure adrenaline of being on the bench versus being 300 rows away from the bench. It’s a different vibe. It’s harder to get the emotion and all that stuff.”
Trotz said he’s leaned heavily on Poile in certain situations, but has taken lessons from every general manager he’s worked under into the job.
His first trade deadline running the show is coming up in March and, with the Predators entering Saturday in the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Trotz said what happens between now and March 8 will dictate the team’s direction.
“I didn’t know what I was expecting [in the job],” Trotz said. “But that’s sorta the great thing about it is you don’t know what to expect. That’s what I’m learning is the fun part of the job is what you think is gonna happen, doesn’t happen.
“I think with coaching for 40 years, you can sorta smell it, feel it, see it coming a little bit. I think with this, I’m still learning it, it’s new. There’s days where I feel like there’s so much I don’t have enough hours in the day. And there’s days where you’re like, I should be good today, I got a little time here. And then all of a sudden, something will come up and your day is gone.
“That’s sort of the neat thing about the job. You don’t know what’s around the next door.”