Larry Robinson thought he would be with the Montreal Canadiens for the rest of his life, until he went to play for the Los Angeles Kings in 1989. Scott Niedermayer never envisioned leaving the New Jersey Devils, until he signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2005.
Robinson and Niedermayer each thought of the shock to the system he experienced when changing teams upon hearing the news that friend and former boss Lou Lamoriello left the Devils after 28 years on Thursday to become the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"It just goes to show you that nothing is forever, especially in the business that we're in," Robinson told NHL.com in a phone interview. "Who would have ever thought that I would have ended up in L.A.? I thought I would have been a Canadien all my life. Next thing you know, you go somewhere else and you realize there is something somewhere else. Actually, it turned out great for me, and I hope it turns out great for Lou as well."
Niedermayer was drafted by the Devils and won the Stanley Cup three times with them. His life was good in New Jersey, his kids born there, his family at home, until he picked up everything and moved across North America.
"It's a romantic vision to think you can be in one place forever," Niedermayer said. "Things change."
Things changed in a big way for Lamoriello and the Devils on Thursday. A relationship that dates back to 1987 came to an abrupt end and a new one began between Lamoriello and the Maple Leafs, buoyed by Brendan Shanahan, the first player Lamoriello ever drafted as the Devils' boss.
Niedermayer's reaction to the bombshell Lamoriello news was surprise.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that had a different reaction than everyone else," he said.
But then Niedermayer thought about Lamoriello's decision and it started to make more sense to him, especially factoring in that Lamoriello resigned as general manager May 4 to make way for Ray Shero.
"Obviously, ownership has changed in New Jersey a number of times and maybe it really was the right time to make a change, for Lou to step down and have somebody else there as the general manager," Niedermayer said. "Maybe that was the right move there. So Lou sits back and then gets this opportunity. Obviously, Brendan spoke to him a number of times and sold him on what they're trying to do. I'm sure Lou asked all the questions as far as how it would work. He's not naive going into any situation. He's been doing it so long that he has a great understanding of it.
"It'll be interesting to watch, but it's going to take me a long time to get used to blue and white and a Maple Leaf every time they put Lou's name up on the TV."
Robinson feels the same way; it will be strange to see Lamoriello in another organization. However, he also knows why Lamoriello did what he did.
To Robinson, the move makes sense to anybody who knows Lamoriello, who he referred to as a worker, not a golfer.
"He wants to be a GM. He's always been that or reluctantly he's been behind the bench," Robinson said. "It's like anything, when you've been around as long as he has, and now all of a sudden you feel like you don't belong and you're not being made a part of whatever else is going along, you have to have a little pride in what you're doing, and I don't think there is anybody that has more pride in what he does in Lou.
"I'm sure it hurts him doing this as much as anybody else because he's been a Devil all his life. He turned that franchise around and made it into a winner. Hey, he's got a new challenge now."