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Lane Lambert’s passion, compassion made many believers long before Islanders

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Lane Lambert was in the air above the Mississippi River, trying to grab onto the armrest.

It was Jan. 9, 2009, six days before Sully Sullenberger became a household name, and the Milwaukee Admirals’ flight from Memphis to San Antonio had started with a loud bang. Upon takeoff, something had gone wrong when the pilot tried to bring the landing gear up.

Now they were circling the Mississippi with Lambert, the team’s head coach, competing with his assistant, Brad Lauer, for the best piece of plastic to hold onto.

“They were sending messages home,” the team’s radio announcer Aaron Sims recalled.

The plane hovered around for a bit as tension hung, before landing back in Memphis without any dramatics. Everyone took a deep breath, calmed themselves, had a beverage or two, then got back on the plane. The Admirals ended up losing that night in overtime.

Afterwards, Lambert burst into the room.

“Boys,” he said. “That’s the best f–king point you’ll ever earn in your life.”

Before being named the Islanders’ new coach last month, Lambert had not held a head-coaching job since that stint with the Admirals, the Predators’ AHL affiliate, from 2007-11, going the next 11 years as an assistant on Barry Trotz’s staffs in Nashville, Washington and New York. Speak to those who worked with him all those years ago and a picture comes into focus quickly.

Lambert is a renowned communicator, someone who knows when to cut the tension and when to lay into a room. He’s unsparing but empathetic; intense but warm. Stories about him tend to fall into two buckets: screaming at someone, or showing extreme humanity.

Islanders
Lane Lambert
Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals

“He looks you in the eye when he talks and he truly cares,” said Blake Geoffrion, who played parts of two seasons under Lambert in Milwaukee. “He wants to know how your family is and how you’re doing and what’s going on. It’s not like he’s doing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I think he has a really good feel for people.”

For an Islanders team that underachieved last season, Lambert could be the person to unlock a group of young players who need to take strides, even if he isn’t exactly someone new.

Though he’d been considered one of the league’s better head-coaching candidates for some time, his hire required some explanation just a week after GM Lou Lamoriello said he ousted Trotz in part because he wanted a “new voice.” The best explanation, though, comes from the players for whom his voice resonated over a decade ago.


Jon Blum was 20 years old and feeling the pressure of being a first-round pick. It was his first time playing against grown men, dealing with the travel and scrutiny and pace of professional hockey. Lambert pulled him aside.

He told Blum not to overthink things. If his job was to pin someone against the wall, he didn’t need to worry about getting the puck, too. Someone else would handle that.

“It made everything easier,” Blum said. “You’re just some 20-year-old kid out of juniors, can’t even grow facial hair-type situation. Just having the head coach in your corner from Day 1 and telling you that he believes in you, it felt good inside, and you want to do everything you can to help that coach win. You want to block that shot.

“There are some coaches you don’t like and stuff like that, you just kinda tune out. Lane was a guy you want to go to war with.”

Years after playing for Lambert, Blum recalled discussing his mother’s cancer with him. Lambert’s first wife, Andi, was going through treatment for cancer at the same time, and they’d lean on each other in support.

“That really made the difference,” Blum said.

He is far from the only person for whom Lambert has done something like that.

Sims, the Admirals’ radio announcer, not only recalled similar conversations with Lambert when his own wife had cancer, but said that Lambert helped inspire him to deal with his weight. One day in the Admirals’ offices, Lambert looked at him and told him to take better care of himself. For about 15 minutes, he talked to Sims about taking care of his body. It stuck. Ten years later, when he had bariatric surgery, Sims thought back to that conversation.

NHL
Lane Lambert
Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals

“It’s one of the more loving things that has happened to me,” Sims said. “And I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him. It certainly wasn’t easy for me to sit there and listen to him tell me how fat I was and how it was hurting me. But he took the time to do it.”

When Drew MacIntyre, an Admirals goaltender, had his first child, Lambert and his wife were right there to give his family the necessary support. MacIntyre’s wife was two weeks overdue, leading to a C-section and a stressful ordeal. On more than one occasion, Lambert told MacIntyre he was not to join the team on a road trip, and to stay with his wife. And when the child was born, Lambert’s wife was there to help the MacIntyres, despite dealing with her own medical situation.

“The last handful of summers, I’ve been kind of crossing my fingers waiting for him to get an opportunity as a head coach in the NHL,” said MacIntyre, now the goalie coach for the AHL Manitoba Moose. “I knew it was coming.”


In a one-on-one conversation with an underperforming player, Lambert’s first question was always about what was going on off the ice.

As someone who knows firsthand what effect that can have on someone — Andi had breast cancer for 17 years before dying in 2015 — Lambert always operated with empathy first.

“Some coaches say the door’s always open,” said Cal O’Reilly, who played under Lambert for three seasons. “Really it’s not open for some coaches. But for him I felt it was.”

That, however, does not mean he was blinded to his players’ issues on the ice.

“What I think Lane’s really good at is he identifies those players that are not playing up to par,” Geoffrion said. “He meets with them, figures out why and gets them going again with whatever it is.”

For Geoffrion, that moment came in a 2010-11 game against Rockford, when he was bullied in the crease by Garnet Exelby. The following day, Lambert ripped him in a video session, telling him to stand up for himself.

That night, Milwaukee played Rockford again. Exelby tried to push Geoffrion around again. This time, Geoffrion fought back.

“I get my ass beat,” Geoffrion said. “And I came back to the bench and the first guy that welcomed me was Lane. He goes, ‘F–king right, I love it! Attaboy, watch the space now that you did that. Watch this.’ And he was right. I got more space.”

That intensity is typical of Lambert. Though he has one indulgence, golf, his preferred habit is to tee off early in the morning, get to the rink without missing anything and stay deep into the night. Mark Van Guilder, another former player, recalled being on the course in the evening and getting a text from Lambert about what he saw on tape.

“The stuff like that always stuck out to me,” Van Guilder said. “That and his pure hatred of losing.”

Van Guilder remembers a random overtime loss one year, the kind of midseason game that everyone moves on from as soon as it ends. The team was back in the locker room, already out of its uniforms. Lambert was still on the bench.

Lane Lambert on the Islanders bench
Lane Lambert on the Islanders bench
Getty Images

“He’s out there slamming the gate, the box, still giving it to the officials,” Van Guilder said. “He cared so much. It was, I don’t know, Game 63 of 80, and he was out there just giving it to the officials. So I think as a player, you love that.”

Years later, his attention to detail, his teaching ability and his devotion still stick out to those who have played for him. Dean Evason, currently the coach of the Minnesota Wild, had the Admirals job soon after Lambert, from 2012-18. Multiple people interviewed for this story compared the two without prompting.

“He’s playing to win,” Lauer said. “He’s got that fire in him, that’s what he wants. He’s a competitor.”


Late in the 2011 season, Lambert, Sims and the team’s travel secretary met for a drink. Lambert had been coaching the Admirals for four seasons, a relatively long stint for an AHL coach, and Sims brought up the question of his future.

Lambert told him that nothing was official yet, but the Predators had told him the plan was to promote him to Trotz’s assistant coach for the next season. When management had asked Lambert that same question about what he saw for himself, he’d turned it around on them.

Lane Lambert
Lane Lambert

“Lane wanted to know, ‘Are you gonna just throw me away? What do you have in store for me?’ And that was the plan,” Sims said.

It’s unknown whether Lambert asked the same question to Lamoriello at some point this May. But any doubt he might have had about how the Islanders viewed his future was answered resoundingly when Lamoriello made his coaching search quick and easy, hiring Lambert just a week after firing Trotz.

It’s a chance his former protégés have been waiting to see him get.

“When I showed up, I was like, how is this guy not coaching in the NHL?” Van Guilder said. “That was 13, 14 years ago.”

And now, after all the waiting and all the work, Lambert finally has his chance.

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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