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Lamoriello recalls relationship with Steinbrenner

Tuesday, 07.13.2010 / 2:14 PM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

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Lamoriello recalls relationship with Steinbrenner
As part of the YankeeNets group, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello got to know the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner well over the past decade.
NEWARK -- The baseball world wasn't the only fraternity mourning the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on Tuesday morning.

The hockey world, including New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello, was deeply saddened when the news broke.

Lamoriello, a member of the board of Yankee Global Enterprises since 2004 and recipient of a 2010 World Series ring, spoke of his relationship with Steinbrenner to the media at the Devils' practice facility at Prudential Center.

"It's a sad day, certainly for his family and baseball, the Yankees and those who knew him well," Lamoriello said. "We lost not only, in my mind, an outstanding individual, but a good friend. And he remained that way."

His relationship with Steinbrenner grew once he became part of YankeeNets -- which is controlled by the Steinbrenner family -- in 2000.

"(The relationship) was an exceptional one," Lamoriello said. "I really knew of him and only met him on isolated occasions prior to being involved with the YankeeNets when we were all one group -- the Devils, the Nets and the Yankees.

"For whatever reason, we became fairly close and spent considerable time (together) at different times. He was the sole individual responsible for me taking over the Nets when that transpired. His support throughout all of those years was just exceptional. He had me become part of the Yankee family. I still am to this day on their board."

Lamoriello actually reached out to Steinbrenner on his 80th birthday on July 4. It was a conversation he'll never forget.

"Not that there was any major substance, but what certainly has happened today (July 13) and speaking to him on that day ... it means a lot," Lamoriello said. "I respected what he accomplished and who he is.

"The area that most people don't know, or don't want to know, is what he did for charities and the reason he did them," he continued. "He did them because he felt it was the right thing. What he did for the Armed Forces and what his whole family continues to be involved with, is fantastic. I'm sure you can see a lot of that association at Yankee Stadium lots of times. The Steinbrenner family thinks that way. They do things not for what the public thinks, but because they're right."

And Lamoriello certainly admired that in Steinbrenner.

"He was never afraid to say what he thought, which is what I admired about him," Lamoriello said. "He was committed to the organization, he was committed to the logo and he had strong beliefs. He followed through the best he could."

Lamoriello fondly recalls Steinbrenner sitting comfortably in his office during the Devils' Cup-clinching Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

"He watched the final Stanley Cup game in my office because he didn't want to go in the crowd," Lamoriello recalled. "He went to a few games, and he was there that seventh game. He did things like that because he wanted to."
"He was never afraid to say what he thought, which is what I admired about him.  He was committed to the organization, he was committed to the logo and he had strong beliefs. He followed through the best he could." -- Lou Lamoriello
And when Steinbrenner approached Lamoriello to become vice-chairman and CEO of the then co-owned New Jersey Nets, he couldn't refuse.

"He was the person that asked me to run the Nets and I couldn't say no to him and didn't try," Lamoriello said with a smile. "The family has been fantastic ... the whole (Yankees) organization."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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