NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils won't look for a new president after Lou Lamoriello resigned from that position Thursday to become general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We don't really feel the need for a president, and we are very excited about our dialogue with [general manager] Ray [Shero] and moving forward," co-owner Josh Harris said.
Lamoriello, who turns 73 in October, was New Jersey president and general manager since 1987. He was replaced as GM in May when the Devils hired Shero. Lamoriello remained president until Thursday.
"When you're used to having absolute control of an organization. … Lou was obviously president and Ray was GM, and I think it was just a different situation for him," Harris said. "I think it's relatively easy to see why he might consider a great team like Toronto as an opportunity.
"Very recently, we found out that Lou as a personal matter, it wasn't working for him, and so this all came at us very quickly. The last 48 hours have been .. we've all had to do a lot of work getting ready for today."
Harris said he couldn't have predicted when Shero was hired May 4 that Lamoriello would leave the Devils.
"Lou and [co-owner] David [Blitzer] and I sat down over a period of many months in advance of approaching Ray and agreeing collectively that people like Ray Shero don't come along every day and that it was an ideal time to think about the next number of years for the Devils, and we [hired him] together and all spent a lot of time coming up with a scenario in which the four of us would work together very closely with Lou as president and Ray as GM," Harris said. "That was what we thought we were doing."
Shero said, '"When I came in here, this was never on my radar. Lou and I worked closely together for the last 2-1/2 months. I was more of an extension of Lou. As a sounding board, Lou was invaluable.'"
Northjersey.com reported that spending over the past five years, starting under former owner Jeff Vanderbeek, led to Lamoriello transitioning out of the GM job.
"Maybe it was a process of the way things have gone in the last five years in New Jersey,” Lamoriello said, according to the website. “There's a lot of things that have transpired there. ... I would say things just weren't the way they were in the past, and you weren't allowed to do some of the things for financial reasons, to be perfectly honest, and it really started to change a little."
Under Lamoriello, the Devils won the Stanley Cup three times (1995, 2000, 2003), went to the Stanley Cup Final five times, won nine division titles and reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs 21 times, including 13 straight seasons from 1997-2010. The Devils had 17 consecutive winning seasons, from 1992-93 through 2009-10.
The Devils were 1,093-779-268 in Lamoriello's 28 years, and were 136-116 in the playoffs. The Devils had NHL's the second-best record in the 1990s (396-275-110) and the second-best record in the 2000s (422-223-95). New Jersey has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.
Forward Patrik Elias, an 18-year veteran, is the last active player connected to the Devils' Stanley Cup winning teams.
“It's a strange thing kind of,” Elias told Northjersey.com from the Czech Republic. "... It's just a weird thing. It's just strange to even read about it that Lou is going to be the GM for a different organization. Obviously, a lot of things have transpired over the last three months and he is a guy that still has the drive and still wants to work and be the man and be the full-time GM. He had the opportunity there (in Toronto), obviously."
Although Shero worked with Lamoriello for less than three months, the 52-year-old who was Pittsburgh Penguins general manager from 2006 until May 2014, said what he learned in that time is invaluable.
"Lou was a huge factor in me coming here. … For me, for 2-1/2 months, it was an amazing experience getting to know him better," Shero said. "It's something from a general managers standpoint, everyone knows and respects Lou, but having the opportunity to me is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The 2-1/2 months I spent with him is something that I'll always cherish.
"I'm certainly better for the experience, and I will cherish the friendship I gained with Lou has been great. He's a pretty amazing person and he is in the Hall of Fame for a reason."
Shero knows how much of a competitor Lamoriello is and said his desire to turn around the Maple Leafs was a challenge he will embrace.
"I'm happy that this move for Lou is something he feels very good about, very passionate about," Shero said. "That's great for the Maple Leafs. Hopefully it's a happy day for the Leafs and for Lou."