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Lamoriello leaves Devils, becomes Maple Leafs GM

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Lou Lamoriello's burning desire to win led to a life-altering change Thursday.

Lamoriello, who turns 73 in October, resigned as president of the New Jersey Devils to become the 16th general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was hired by Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and replaces Dave Nonis, who was fired after Toronto finished 27th in the NHL standings last season.

"The thing that has driven me all of my life is winning," Lamoriello said after being introduced at Air Canada Centre. "The commitment that the Toronto Maple Leafs have made when they brought Brendan in and brought (coach) Mike Babcock in, to me the only thing that can happen is having success. Winning doesn't happen because you say it; winning happens because of everything you do that leads to it."

Lamoriello, who signed a three-year contract (according to Sportsnet), admitted he really wasn't interested in the position when Shanahan first presented the opportunity to him, but the Maple Leafs president was persistent.

"I don't know how many of you know Brendan as well as I do, but when he was a 17-year-old player he was aggressive in trying to make the NHL," Lamoriello said of Shanahan, who he drafted with the second pick of the 1987 NHL Draft. "I can tell you if I wanted anybody recruited, I am sending Brendan."

The addition of Lamoriello continues Shanahan's rebuilding of an organization that has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. Since last season ended, Shanahan has hired Babcock as coach (giving him an eight-year contract); assistant coaches Jim Miller, D.J. Smith and Andrew Brewer; goalie coach Steve Briere; scouts; and has instituted a sports science and performance program to optimize the performances of the players.

While introducing his new GM, Shanahan gave thanks to the board of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, "for allowing me to do the things that I have done this summer to bring the Toronto Maple Leafs what I consider the best available talent in order for us to get back to where we want to be as a hockey team."

Lamoriello joined the Devils in 1987, the year they drafted Shanahan. Previously, Lamoriello coached the men's hockey team at Providence College and then became the school's athletic director.

With the Devils, Lamoriello won the Stanley Cup three times (1995, 2000, 2003) and reached the Stanley Cup Final on two other occasions (2001, 2012). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Following last season, when the Devils failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season, Lamoriello stepped down as GM, with the job going to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero. Lamoriello intended to remain with the Devils as president.

In Toronto, he joins a staff that includes assistant GM Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter. Shanahan has been preaching patience, and Lamoriello is on board.

"I understand it is not something that is going to happen overnight," Lamoriello said. "I am committed to that along with Brendan and along with Mark, along with Mike, along with Kyle … each and every person in the front office."

Lamoriello's hiring is a golden opportunity for Dubas, a 29-year-old who will learn the ropes from an experienced man who is held in the highest regard in hockey circles.

"I think having Lou in the organization is an opportunity for him to mentor us all," Shanahan said. "I think there are a lot of GMs in the League now that would point to Lou as someone who helped them along in their careers. Since I have been here in Toronto, people have asked who has influenced me in my playing career and my career in management and Lou is someone who certainly had an influence on me."

Lamoriello said, "Kyle is a young fellow who has tremendous abilities. If he doesn't become a GM here -- I'm not going to be here for a lifetime -- it's going to be his fault."

Lamoriello made it known when it comes to hockey decisions, he is the one who will make the final call. However, he added there will be plenty of consultation with the rest of the management staff and Babcock.

A native of Providence, R.I., Lamoriello is known for running a no-nonsense organization. He does not expect that to change in Toronto, although he said he will be patient and get to know the employees before starting to put his stamp on the team.

"I have to take a step back and watch and listen and learn on the job, so to speak," Lamoriello said. "You never make changes for the sake of changing. You see what is working. The one thing that will not fundamentally change is the word 'accountability.' That's where it all starts. Everything else is an extension of that."

The Maple Leafs have to give the Devils a third-round draft pick as compensation for Lamoriello, according to Sportsnet. That pick will come in either the 2016, 2017 or 2018 NHL Draft.

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