Lou Lamoriello becomes the 16th general manager in Maple Leafs history. While some may question his age (72), it’s impossible to deny his track record.
A winner of three Stanley Cups during his tenure in New Jersey, his time with the Devils came at a crossroads when Ray Shero was appointed new GM on May 4, 2015. Lamoriello remained as team president.
It was at that point Leafs president Brendan Shanahan began pursuing the man who drafted him. But it took another ten weeks before Lamoriello agreed to join Toronto.
“There was a period there during free agency where we weren’t speaking,” said Shanahan. “In the last week or so and the last few days, talks just picked up and seemed to happen rather quickly.”
The itch to get back to being involved on a day-to-day basis was strong for Lamoriello. The Leafs presented him with an opportunity to do that again, while working with a new and rejuvenated staff.
In the end, Lamoriello’s decision comes down to parting with an organization that he has been part of for over 28 years. While that decision may have seemed like a no-brainer for a man who runs a tight ship, the decision to leave was one that didn’t come easy.
“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,” added Lamoriello. “No question melancholy and I'm actually trying not to think about it right now.”
So why this route for Brendan Shanahan?
If you look at the body of work, Lamoriello’s ability to do the job is undeniable. Among any candidates out there, you won’t find many that were available who can match the resume.
While age is a factor, Lamoriello’s presence should be one that can help the front office. That includes recent hires Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas.
“That’s where I felt Lou would be a good fit,” said Shanahan. “I’ve always thought that there are certain advantages to hiring people on their way up that are looking to prove themselves and have that sort of hunger and energy to make a name for themselves. But I do think that we were lacking in experience. So if I could draw out or map out a description of the kind of person that we wanted, it would be Lou.”
The Leafs transformation from a front office standpoint is complete. The combination of Lamoriello and Mike Babcock have four Stanley Cups and eight cup final appearances. Dubas, Hunter and Brandon Pridham have all been hired in the last year.
With a GM to work the phones, Lamoriello is now charged with helping shape the Leafs’ roster for years to come.
“We know the roster needs some work. That's an understatement,” said Lamoriello of his new team. “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.”
It is the second consecutive year where the Leafs have been busy at a time when you didn’t expect it. 366 days ago, the Leafs shook up management by hiring Dubas and parting ways with assistant GMs Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle.
The front office is set. Time to build.