New Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello met with the media at Air Canada Centre on Thursday afternoon. Here's what he had to say...
What is the biggest challenge facing this team right now?
I really couldn't answer that right now until I've had an opportunity to sit down with everybody and listen to what everybody thinks. The way I will approach it is asking what are all the positives first. I'm a believer in that. Then, what need to be changed in their opinion and all their thoughts. Right now I couldn't answer that and I don't think I will be answering those types of things. It'll be whatever actions are taken.
Where do you see your place in that front office?
I have a responsibility as far as General Manager and I report to Brendan. The other people report to me. That's the way any type of an organization works. Everybody works together, they don't work for each other, everybody will be part of every process.
Will there be full autonomy in the role like there was in New Jersey?
That's what I'm told.
What have you learned about the city of Toronto so far?
I haven't been here other than two hours so I can't tell you. I've always liked Toronto, it's a great city, would you want me to say anything different? I'm really excited to be here.
Did you ever think you'd work here at some point?
Absolutely not. Never even thought about it. Was never even something that entered my mind. In fact, even this really came about over a short period of time. As Brendan mentioned, once he saw I wasn't going to be General Manager he asked for permission. As I said, Brendan is a pretty good communicator and recruiter.
Did any of your history with New Jersey against the Leafs enter your mind on your way here?
No, it really wasn't. When I got off the plane my phone — I couldn't do anything with the bells on the phone — I was just trying to answer as many things as I could so I didn't really have time to think. I'm sure I will.
If it wasn't for Brendan do you think would you be here?
No, absolutely not.
Where do you stand on a long term commitment to a coach?
That is some question. Mike hasn't even been here a day and you're already looking for trouble.
Do you see this as longer than three years?
I'm just going to see what's necessary and where it's going. I'm in this totally committed. I don't need to be here, I don't need to do that. I'm excited because in this city and with the history of this franchise and the people that are here I think there's a tremendous opportunity.
Is there any sense of melancholy after severing your relationship with New Jersey?
That's a great question and as you started to talk about it there's no question about that. That was the toughest thing at the end. I used the expression to myself was taking the jersey off. What my relationship was to the Devils, you just — come on, I've been there for so long and had so many great experiences and worked with so many great people, great staff, great coaches. No question melancholy and I'm actually trying not to think about it right now.
What did you tell your son?
That was tough, but probably my two granddaughters — the oldest one — that was probably the toughest because one of my granddaughters, when we didn't re-sign Parise she didn't talk to me for two weeks. She says, "I'm not talking to him, it's his fault." I have no idea what I'm going to go through with my granddaughters because all they've ever worn is Devils stuff and all they've ever seen and believed. My two sons and daughter, I think they know me well enough that I wouldn't have done this unless I believed in doing it and was committed to it.
How much did the Leafs resources play a role in your move here?
I don't know if it's the financial resources because a lot of teams have that. I think the commitment they've shown and the people they have here was what really affected me.
Could David Conte make the transition with you?
I don't think that's a fair question right now because I have to come in here and see exactly what it's all about.
How long could you see yourself doing this?
As I said earlier, not to be redundant, as long as I feel good and as long as you're excited about what you're doing and, quite frankly, having fun in what you do. The only way you have fun is if you see some results in the things you're trying to accomplish.
What were some of the biggest deciding factors for you?
New Jersey Devils, bottom line, leaving the New Jersey Devils. All of the other things here that were here were attractive or else we wouldn't consider it when making that decision.
What is it about Shanahan's approach to recruiting that makes him so successful?
Well, I think I knew Brendan as a young 18-year-old. That was my first draft was Shanahan. You know the type of player he was, he played for the team. Brendan wanted team people and he wanted people who want to win and people who would pay the price to win and make hard decisions. In order to have success you have to make hard decisions. Those are the people Brendan wants.
Where do you see yourself as a General Manager in terms of managing the salary cap?
I think you said it best, in this day and age every player is overpaid. Let's call it the way it is. I remember a conversation I had recently a couple of years ago we signed a player and I prefaced the media announcement with "Yes, he's overpaid and the contract is too long so next question." It's a question of how you value your player within the organization and how important he is to winning. We want to pay players, not because that's what other teams would pay and you have to get him and you might have to walk away.
Are there any things you'd do differently in Toronto given the limitations you mentioned in New Jersey?
Only time will tell.
Is part of your job identifying guys who want to be Maple Leafs?
I don't know who does and who doesn't but we want to find players who want to be here, who want to win and don't want individual success, they want team success. I can't remember the names of the guys who were leading scorers when we won but I do remember the names of the guys who were on the Cup.
Do you see keeping your rules from New Jersey?
We haven't even talked about it. I do know one thing that Mike and myself have a lot of philosophies that are very, very similar. Those are external things but the key things are going to be the players — how they act, how they play and how they interact with each other and how they depend on each other.
From afar, what did you think of the roster?
Well, I mean, there's a lot of intelligent people right here asking me that question. We know the roster needs some work. That's an understatement. That's not saying that roster cannot have success. We don't know what they can do once they get under Mike's direction and once we find out how many of them want to make a commitment.
Do you support the slow, patient approach to things that has been talked about by Brendan and Mike?
There's no question you have to have a foundation before you can go anywhere. Yes, it could be slower, there could be more pain because there could be more subtraction than addition to get that foundation with the right culture going forward. So, yes.