-- At time when Lou Lamoriello could forget his duties as president/CEO/general manager of the New Jersey Devils
for just a few minutes as the hockey world saluted his accomplishments during Monday's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he couldn't do it.
That's because only a few moments into his induction speech, Lamoriello acknowledged the six Devil players who had secretively chartered a plane bound to Toronto from Morristown, N.J., following Monday's practice.
"... I understand a few of our players snuck out and I'm told are here this evening and I'm going to mention you just so you know that I know you're here. And I'm hoping that you spent a little of your money and chartered a flight so you can make curfew. And in saying that, I know that Marty (Brodeur) is here, our captain Jamie Langenbrunner
, one of our assistants, Zach Parise
, Colin White
and Jay Pandolfo
. These fellows have all experienced winning and I thank you for coming."
As if you needed further proof that the man is completely dedicated to what is best for his organization. All six players, including forward David Clarkson
, returned to New Jersey following Monday's ceremony, arriving around 11:30 p.m., and were all accounted for at the morning skate Tuesday.
"I think he's speaking from his heart when he's talking about his kids, current players and ex-players and it was amazing to see," Clarkson said. "He could have went on and on, but that's just the type of person he is. Everything he says comes from the heart and he really means it. It's kind of why I asked to go. Just because he's done a lot for me, personally, and I don't think anyone else deserves it more than him so it was an honor to be there on his big day and to see those other inductees (Steve Yzerman
, Brett Hull
and Luc Robitaille
) and meet other players attending was amazing. It was a special day for me."
Surprisingly, the Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration was a first for Brodeur. He admitted plans to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony about two weeks ago after he and Langenbrunner couldn't decide what to get Lamoriello.
"Me and Jamie talked about what we were going to get him," Brodeur said. "Seriously, what are you going to get him? I said I'll make a few phone calls, maybe we can just go and surprise him there. We called and asked Scotty (Stevens) about it for tickets and stuff, and he said it's not that easy to get all that stuff. Six tickets right on the floor? Even though it's two weeks ahead, it's still last minute. But we scrambled, and good thing we've won a few Cups; we had a couple of people there. Everything worked out well."
Clarkson said nobody was really concerned with Lamoriello discovering their secret.
"We weren't worried about Lou finding out, we just wanted to be there for him," he said. "The six of us went down to be there for him. I can't even explain to you what it meant to me to be down there and be a part of that."
White admitted he and his teammates talked about the ceremony and the impact it had on them the entire flight home from Toronto.
"All the speeches were great and they all had such great careers," White said. "It was great to be a part of it. It was something special and to be in the room with so much history around you. We talked about it on the way back and we all got to meet players and people who impacted each of us.
When asked if he made curfew, White laughed.
"I don't know," he said. "I know (Lamoriello) was happy and we were happy to be a part of it. It was a special time for him and his family and he's helped all of us out and has given us a chance."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com