Today the hockey world was shocked when New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello abruptly resigned his position to take over as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lamoriello had been with the Devils since 1987, the same year they drafted now Leafs president Brendan Shanahan who ironically hired Lamoriello away from New Jersey. In his 28 years in New Jersey Lamoriello took over what was considered a “Mickey Mouse” organization and led them to the pinnacle, winning three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000, 2003) and even reached another two Cup Finals in 2001 and 2012. The Devils will receive a 3rd round pick from Toronto as compensation for hiring Lamoriello.
Without a doubt this is the most surprising news of the off-season. Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs have been operating through the recent NHL Entry Draft with a GM vacancy it certainly wasn’t on the radar that the position would be filled by the legendary Lamoriello. Despite all of the accolades that Lamoriello has garnered over his career, including a 2009 induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame, this is the equivalent of managing the Tampa Bay Rays and then being handed the keys to the New York Yankees. Lou will be entering a far more harsh, critical, and demanding market. But if anyone is built for it without a doubt it is him.
It is certainly an interesting dynamic that will be followed closely going forward. The Devils fan base has had issues with Lamoriello over the past few seasons as he failed to draft and develop much of a pipeline of young players. Instead, the organization opted to sign aging veterans in an attempt to stay competitive rather than start over and build from the inside-out like most successful modern day teams do. This summer the Devils hired former Penguins GM Ray Shero to come in and fix the blunders of the past three seasons. Now, Lamoriello will be joining a Leafs organization that has adopted the “go young, draft and develop” philosophy that they too had avoided too long like New Jersey. Lamoriello will be working in tandem with new head coach Mike Babcock in an effort to implement their similar no-nonsense culture while staying the long-term course Shanahan has laid out for the fanatical and impatient fan base. Things certainly just got a whole lot more interesting in Toronto.