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Lamoriello out as general manager of Maple Leafs

Held position for three seasons; contract allows him to transition to senior adviser

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Lou Lamoriello will not return as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs but will remain with the organization in the role of senior adviser.

When Lamoriello, 75, was hired July 23, 2015, the plan was for him to be GM for three years before transitioning to senior adviser for the following four years. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said Monday he decided it was best to adhere to the original plan.

"Lou and I, when we first met, discussed this challenge," Shanahan said. "We talked about a timetable and I guess I came to the conclusion that that was the right time timetable, and it was time to make a change."

Shanahan said there is no timetable to name a successor and that candidates, internal and external, will be considered. 

He said his attention was on the Maple Leafs, who had their season end April 25 when they were defeated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round by the Boston Bruins.  

"First and foremost, we were playing hockey a week ago so our focus was on hockey, on the games," Shanahan said. "I felt what was best for the organization was if I were to make a decision, to make one early, so I haven't begun that process yet and that's why nobody has been named. My focus was on Lou and making a decision, and taking a little bit of time right after the season ended to really reflect on that."

Video: Elliott Friedman on Lou Lamoniello not returning

Lamoriello does not know if will remain as senior adviser for the full four years.

"I've never been in a situation like that. So like everything else in life, you'll learn as you go and make the best of it. I wish I could give you that answer," Lamoriello said. "I haven't even given it any thought. It would be my intention, if your health is good, you feel good, you enjoy the people around you, you do something. That would be the intent."

The Maple Leafs went 118-95-33 in Lamoriello's three seasons and improved each season. They went 29-42-11 in 2015-16, missing the playoffs, but won the 2016 Draft Lottery and used the No. 1 pick on center Auston Matthews, who won the Calder Trophy, awarded to the League's top rookie, after finishing with 69 points (40 goals, 29 assists) in the 2016-17 season.

Last season, the Maple Leafs finished 40-27-15 to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season. They were defeated in the first round by the Washington Capitals in six games.

This season, Toronto went 49-26-7, setting team records for wins and points (105) to finish third in the Atlantic Division, but were defeated by the Bruins in the first round. They reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04. 

"Probably the proudest moment is seeing how the franchise has grown as far as winning," Lamoriello said. "The first year, we went through a transition where we went through some 50 players to find out exactly who wanted to be a part of the group that Brendan put together and seeing the people who did remain, the success they'd had since then. The proudest moment would be seeing the team go from [30th place] to 14th to 7th."

Video: The NHL Tonight crew on today's front office news

Lamoriello resigned as president of the New Jersey Devils to become the 16th general manager of the Maple Leafs on the same day in 2015. He won the Stanley Cup three times (1995, 2000, 2003) with the Devils and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Shanahan was the first player Lamoriello selected as an NHL GM in the 1987 NHL Draft (No. 2) with New Jersey.

"When I approached Lou and we discussed coming to Toronto, I can certainly say I was hopeful he would take that challenge on and he has delivered," Shanahan said. "My relationship and respect that I have for him has only grown over time."

Two possible internal candidates could be Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas, who were Lamoriello's assistants. Though Hunter, Dubas and coach Mike Babcock were hired prior to Lamoriello's arrival, Shanahan gave Lamoriello credit for working well with a staff in place and said the culture Lamoriello established left him without any concerns that his departure would cause disruption within the front office.

"I think that is one of the things that Lou has to get credit for," Shanahan said. "He worked in an environment which when he came here, there was a team of people already assembled and he fit in as their leader seamlessly. Lou's mentorship these past three years with the entire management group, coaching staff and even office staff, that's just how he works. I don't think people understand how collaborative he actually is and how many people that he's brought alongside to teach as he's gone along. Lou Lamoriello's influence on everyone here will be felt for a long time."

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