Hockey’s talking heads in both New Jersey and Toronto are having a field day with this one.
At 10 a.m. on July 23 the New Jersey Devils released a tweet announcing that Lou Lamoriello had resigned. At 10:01 a.m. the Toronto Maple Leafs tweeted that Lamoriello had been hired as the team’s General Manager.
Lamoriello, who had been with the Devils from 1987 to 2015, served longer with a single team than any general manager in NHL history.
It was an amazing turn of events.
There had been talk from some quarters that as he’s about to turn 73 that perhaps his best years were behind him.
With that in mind the owners of the Devils brought in a new General Manager (Ray Shero), leaving Lamierello as President of the club. It seems that change left him with little to do.
The Toronto President, Brendan Shanahan, himself first drafted by Lamoriello in 1987, saw the unfolding situation in New Jersey and an opportunity to tap into that now underutilized genius in Toronto. Now they are reunited, this time with Shanahan listed as boss on the corporate chart.
But the Leafs situation is unique. Their coach, Mike Babcock, is also a high-profile signing. Babcock too comes to town as a winner, with titles in Detroit and the Olympics, and with a solid reputation. It is likely to be a novel collaborative effort as they try to remake one of hockey’s flagship franchises.
As for Lamoriello, “Lou’s a model for our business. This is not just the best run franchise in the NHL, it’s the best-run franchise in pro sports,” said long-time NHL executive and current Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke.
For Toronto, I think it’s as good a move as they have made in decades. Long suffering Leaf fans finally have cause to be upbeat. Lamoriello may not be there long, but he is sure to set in place a culture that will come to be envied, just as he did in New Jersey. It’s a culture aptly described by North Jersey Media Group columinist as follows:”Demand accountability. Stifle selfishness. Put team above self. Set high expectations. Listen more than you speak. Make decisions and stand by them”.
As for the Devils, they have lost much more than just a top executive.