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History helps Shanahan, Maple Leafs land Lamoriello

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com

TORONTO -- Brendan Shanahan has received credit for his dogged pursuit of the people he wants helping him rebuild the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Coach Mike Babcock, wooed and won in May, and now general manager Lou Lamoriello, introduced on Thursday, mentioned how determined and convincing the Maple Leafs president can be.

"When you're the youngest of four Irish boys at the dinner table your whole life," Shanahan said, "you learn how to fight for the last potato."

The reunion of Shanahan and Lamoriello with the Maple Leafs continues a close personal relationship that started 28 years ago. Lamoriello was in his first year as general manager of the New Jersey Devils when they selected Shanahan with the second pick of the 1987 NHL Draft.

The knowledge he gleaned from the relationship played a big role in his ability to convince Lamoriello to sign a three-year contract to become Maple Leafs general manager, Shanahan said.

Shanahan sensed an opportunity when Lamoriello stepped down as Devils general manager in May but remained on as president.

Shanahan asked for and received permission to talk to Lamoriello about joining the Maple Leafs, and he planted a seed. He knew Lamoriello would miss being on the front line as a GM.

Lamoriello on Thursday recalled Shanahan telling him, "I know you too well. This is not going to last long. Just think about it. Every time you feel you're not in the fire or on the line, think about this conversation."

"Eventually he got to me," Lamoriello said.

The hiring of Lamoriello is the last big piece for Shanahan's off-ice team. With a group of young executives -- many working in the NHL for the first time -- Shanahan said Lamoriello's experience filled a big need.

The two had stayed in touch over the years, and as Shanahan went from a Hall of Fame player to aspiring executive, he came to realize how much he was using the lessons he had learned from Lamoriello.

"You don't even realize sometimes when you're a kid, when you're a young person, the impression that someone is leaving on you," Shanahan said. "Whoever that person is, if they're an important person in your life, sometimes you recognize that 10, 20 years later that you are valuing certain things and you're recognizing the value in things from that person.

"Some of the things I've brought to Toronto in my management style, I wouldn't say it completely mirrors Lou's; there are other people who have had an influence on me as well. (But) there are certain things like making announcements without people having a heads up that they're coming that I can say I probably stole from Lou."

Without the relationship Shanahan and Lamoriello share both professionally and personally, there was no way Lamoriello would have considered leaving the Devils.

It was a difficult decision. The Devils are entrenched in the Lamoriello family. He said Thursday his granddaughter didn't talk to him for two weeks after he didn't re-sign star forward Zach Parise a couple of years ago because she blamed Lamoriello for his departure.

"That was the toughest thing at the end. I used the expression to myself, 'taking the jersey off,'" Lamoriello said. "What my relationship is with the Devils … c'mon now, I've been there for so long, had so many great experiences, worked with so many great people.

"No question (I feel) melancholy and trying not to think about it right now."

Much of Shanahan's philosophy on team-building comes from what he learned from and observed with Lamoriello.

"It's trying to create where the players are willing to give up their own identity for that logo in front and never mixing what's on back of the jersey and what's in front of the jersey," said Lamoriello. "That has something that has to be transmitted to each and every player no matter what their abilities are.

"I've always made a team like an orchestra. It's all about music. If the music isn't good, no matter how good each and every one instrument is, everybody leaves. Success doesn't come unless each and every one of these individuals are committed to each other, but more important, will do what's necessary to have success and that's give up their own identity."

The Devils had those type of players much of Lamoriello's tenure.

"I can't remember who were the leading scorers when we won," Lamoriello said. "But I do remember the names of the people who are on the (Stanley) Cup."

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