Lane Lambert’s appointment as the Islanders’ head coach was more about regaining the team’s identity than forging a new one.
His way of doing that began to make itself clear on Thursday, when Lambert officially led practice for the first time during training camp.
“The new voice is simply my voice,” said Lambert who was the top assistant last season to Barry Trotz, who was fired in May after the Islanders missed the playoffs. “It’s different in the way I communicate and the way I talk. There’s nothing wrong with the old voice in terms of what he did, but it’s certainly different for me now. I’m a demanding, passionate guy, really. And the players know that and they respect that and I respect them.”
The Islanders aren’t expected to drastically alter the way they play under Lambert, but not everything will be the same.
“I think just from a couple meetings and the first day, they really want us to be aggressive in all three areas of the zone,” defenseman Noah Dobson told The Post. “Especially for D-men, a big emphasis is our gaps and getting up the ice and being aggressive.”
That emphasis is a departure from how the Islanders played last season, when they prioritized defensive structure over contributing to the rush.
Aggressive, it turned out, was a buzzword in the dressing room.
“He’s talked about just being more aggressive, wanting to be just threatening at all times,” center Mathew Barzal said. “Trying to get the D a little more active, just skating more.”
As for Lambert’s communication style, players find him direct and willing to hold them accountable. That, they believe, should help them regain the rhythm that slipped away from them amid a disastrous 2021-22.
“I think towards the end [of the season], we were getting back to it. We were getting back to being a hard team to play against,” center Jean-Gabriel Pageau told The Post. “And I think that’s what we want to come back to.”
Defenseman Bode Wilde, who was exiled to Sweden last year after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, will not attend training camp, per the team. The Islanders are figuring out an assignment for Wilde this season.
The Islanders will lose their 2023 third-round pick to the Coyotes, which they conditionally traded in the Andrew Ladd deal. Ladd reportedly failed his physical and will go on IR.
LW Otto Koivula, D Isaiah George and LW Collin Adams didn’t skate on Thursday with undisclosed injuries. Lambert said they would be evaluated on Friday.