New Jersey Devils
CEO and President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, said the honor is a result of the people he's been fortunate to be associated with at Providence College and the Devils, over the past 40-plus years.
Lamoriello said one of the most important reasons for his excitement about being inducted is the other inductees he'll be joining, Brian Leetch
, Steve Yzerman
, Luc Robitaille
and Brett Hull
"How could you ask for any better company," he said to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during the commissioner's weekly Thursday broadcast on NHL.com's The NHL Hour.
Lamoriello, a native of Providence, R.I., who starred in baseball and hockey at Providence College, went on to be coach of the hockey team and athletic director before joining the Devils in 1987.
Bettman said that he was eagerly looking forward to Monday night's ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto but that he was getting worried because he felt like he was coming down with the flu.
That led to a hilarious first call from a listener who said he represented a company (Spore Buster) that markets products for cleaning homes and offices of infectious diseases.
"Go ahead and plug your product," Bettman said. "You've caught me in a weak moment." And so, the unidentified caller went ahead and did his plug.
Bettman also congratulated "good friend and great ambassador for our game (St. Louis Blues
President) John Davidson
who will receive the Foster Hewitt Award and Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who has won the Elmer Ferguson Award."
Bettman asked Lamoriello about his reaction when he was informed in June that he'd been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"How fortunate I really have been to be in the two organizations, only two for the number of years that I was in, and being involved with so many quality people who were not only quality but talented," Lamoriello replied. "Whenever an occasion like this comes about, being recognized, you realize and know it's because of the people you've been with. Someone has to get that recognition, unfortunately, but that's the way it is. It's really the people you've been with and that is exactly what I thought of."
Bettman asked Lamoriello if that consistency of leadership is an important reason for his teams' successes. The Devils have won three Stanley Cups under Lamoriello's management.
"When you have someone who has been allowed to do what I've been doing here by Dr. (John) McMullen, from Day One, through and to present ownership, Jeff Vanderbeek, to do the things that are necessary to have success, what happens is you're able to establish a philosophy and establish a discipline that people fall into. Then what happens is it's passed on. When nothing is acceptable except winning, it breeds winning."
Bettman recalled the time a few years ago when the Devils were owned by a corporation that owned the New York Yankees, the New Jersey Nets and the Devils. That corporation was broken up and the teams all have different owners -- but Lamoriello remains on the board of directors of the Yankees. Bettman asked him how he felt about Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner winning another World Series title. The Yankees defeated the reigning champion Philadelphia Phillies in six games on Wednesday.
"I'm certainly ecstatic. Everyone knows I'm a Yankees fan," Lamoriello said. "... The Steinbrenner family has become very special to me. The association with George, on a personal level, has been something I've cherished."
Bettman asked Lamoriello what he tells a budding sports executive who ask for advice or goes to work for him.
"Whenever an occasion like this comes about, being recognized, you realize and know it's because of the people you've been with. Someone has to get that recognition, unfortunately, but that's the way it is. It's really the people you've been with and that is exactly what I thought of." -- Lou Lamoriello
"What's the most important thing that you think is required to breed a culture and an environment of success?" Bettman asked.
"I believe that you have to have a philosophy," Lamoriello said. "You have to have a discipline that you have to realize that the seat you get to sit in has knowledge that no one else has because of where you sit and how you interact with the people that you are with. You have to make decisions on the right thing for the organization and the logo. You cannot be persuaded by the media. You cannot be persuaded by the fans. You cannot allow that to get in the way.
"You have to do what is right because of the knowledge that you have the people around you who give you that knowledge. Trust their judgment, hire quality people and go forward. Do not look back. Expect to make mistakes and learn from them -- but don't change, don't keep adjusting and don't try to satisfy anybody but your philosophy and what the organization stands for."
Lamoriello credited his parents, neither of whom had a high-school degree, who felt the way to get ahead was to be honest and sincere at work. He said they give him and his brother and sister opportunities to succeed and "they never veered from it. They did it the right way and they trusted their judgments."