NEWARK, N.J. -- Lou Lamoriello has seen his share of owners, coaches and players come and go since first joining the New Jersey Devils in April 1987.
The late Dr. John McMullen, who was serving as the team's owner when Lamoriello was hired as president, was taking a huge gamble. Sure, Lamoriello was a tremendously successful collegiate coach and athletic director at Providence College, but he never played, coached or managed in the NHL before.
As it turns out, McMullen's gut feeling has no doubt been the foundation of the franchise ever since. And as quickly as the people and nameplates have changed throughout the corridors and offices surrounding that of the 70-year-old native of Providence, R.I., the ultimate goal has always remained the same: Stanley Cup or bust.
"I still have the passion to compete and win, and you don't compete against anyone but yourself [in this business]," Lamoriello told NHL.com.
It's because of Lamoriello that anyone associated with the Devils can rest assured the franchise will always be in good hands.
So even before Josh Harris and David Blitzer officially announced their purchase of the team on Thursday during a press conference at Prudential Center, they had determined Lamoriello would remain in charge of all hockey decisions.
"I'm honored to be here and to have the opportunity to stay here in New Jersey with the Devils," Lamoriello said.
Not surprisingly, he'll continue to serve as CEO of hockey operations, president and general manager of the team.
The new ownership group will be the fourth since the team was moved by Dr. McMullen from Colorado to New Jersey in 1982.
"I look at ownership as one person and I've worked for four different people," Lamoriello said with a grin. "When I was at Providence College, I worked for three different presidents so I was directly responsible to three different individuals. It's not because the college was sold, it was just that their tenure was up. This is very similar."
While there was some trepidation at the outset, Lamoriello met with Harris and Blitzer for the first time over the past week and came away extremely impressed.
"I think when there's the potential of new ownership, you look up their bios and try to learn a little about their families and the success they've had," Lamoriello said. "Well, it didn't take long to just close it and say, 'They're successful,' no question."
Lamoriello was equally, if not more impressed with their commitment and desire to winning -- something very near and dear to his heart.
"I was impressed with the realism, the honestly, upfrontness and how direct they were," Lamoriello said. "What I took out of our conversation was their commitment to excellence, commitment to drive and work ethic, while never compromising integrity and honesty. That, to me, was more important than anything."
Harris, the self-made billionaire who is co-founder of Apollo Global Management, is ecstatic to be working alongside Lamoriello. He said he will provide his GM everything needed to deliver wins to the city.
"Lou is a tremendous asset to this organization, and the Stanley Cup banners that hang here attest that he will continue to play a key role to the success in this organization moving forward," Harris said. "Tampering with success isn't a good recipe; Lou is in charge of hockey operations. I'll ask questions, probe and debate, but Lou is in charge of hockey."
And for good reason, as under the leadership of Lamoriello, the Devils have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs all but four times between 1988 and 2013, including 13 berths in a row from 1997-2010. The club finished with a winning record every season from 1992-93 through 2009-10 and has reached the Cup Final five times, winning in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
"Winning is what drives you," Lamoriello said. "To have the four gentlemen sitting in front of me [Devils alumni Bruce Driver, Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd and Grant Marshall] and knowing all of them participated in one or more Stanley Cups … that's what it's all about.
"The pleasure that you see people enjoy during all of that; it's like having your own children and watching them enjoy what they do and watching the benefits of what the success is that goes along with it. That's what drives you … that's what you feel. And if you feel that you've been a part of that, as little as it might be, that's what keeps you going."
Blitzer hopes that some of Lamoriello's success rubs off on him at some point.
"I was joking with Lou the other day … he's got some special sauce and I think everybody that follows hockey in any way would like to know a little more about Lou's special sauce," Blitzer said. "He promised he'd give me a little bit, and hopefully over time, he'll give me all of that special sauce. But that's probably impossible."
And to think, Lamoriello has maintained this high standard despite making 18 coaching changes -- including stepping behind the bench himself as interim coach twice -- and watching several key players leave for more money after first making their mark with the Devils.
Daneyko never doubted that Lamoriello would continue his role in overseeing the hockey team.
"Lou has a passion for winning and his loyalty to players and the team has never wavered," Daneyko told NHL.com. "That's something you have to earn through hard work, but his actions speak for themselves. I know he wants to get back to the Stanley Cup. I think every Devils fan has to be awfully pumped just listening to [Harris and Blitzer], to their commitment."
Daneyko, who now serves as a television commentator of the MSG Network, was selected by the Devils in the first round (No. 18) of the 1982 NHL Draft. He celebrated three Stanley Cup titles in the Garden State.
"I spent a lot of years with this organization and bleed the team's colors," Daneyko said. "To see the stability we will have is great. Josh and David seem to be calm, cool and collected, and they know what they want to do, but it will take time."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mikemorrealeNHL
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer