New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has been around the game for a long time. Ever since taking over as the president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils back in 1987, Lamoriello has compiled a career that is Hall of Fame worthy. In fact, Lamoriello was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2009. Though towards the end of his tenure with the Devils in 2015, he might have lost his touch especially with drafting players. However, he started to regain his touch with the Toronto Maple Leafs. When he was named general manager and president of hockey operations of the New York Islanders is when the magic fully returned.
Over the past couple of seasons, his moves have allowed the Islanders to reach the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Something the team has not done since their dynasty years of the 1980s. In addition, the signings and trades have put the Islanders in a position to win every season. And because of those moves, he won the Jim Gregory Award for general manager of the year in 2020 and now again in 2021. Even with his three Stanley Cups in New Jersey, Lamoriello never won this award. Now he is the first two-time winner of the award. One thing is for sure, maybe all Lamoriello needed was a change of scenery to get his touchback.
Lou Lamoriello did great things for the New Jersey Devils. He brought respectability to the Devils. He changed the climate and culture. Lamoriello continues to do that. He did so with Toronto and now with the Islanders. Some of Lou’s rules may be quirky, but there are reasons for his madness. But towards the end in New Jersey, he was getting a bit stale. You can agree to disagree with that statement. But he was trying to keep the Devils a contender in the playoffs instead of looking ahead to the future. The poor decisions drafting and developing set the team back.
As Lamoriello got older he was more a finisher than a developer. If there was a team out there that needed help going across the finish line, he was the guy to bring in. He lost his touch actually building a team from the ground up. Hence why the Maple Leafs hired him. Though to be honest Lou was more a figurehead in Toronto. The decisions were made as a group amongst Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas and Lamoriello. However, when Lamoriello was there, he got the Maple Leafs back to the playoffs by changing the culture. Toronto wishes they still have him right now.
After not having his contract renewed by Toronto, Lamoriello made his way back to the New York area signing on with the same title he held in New Jersey with the Islanders. Again he changed the climate and culture bringing in head coach Barry Trotz. Immediately that move paid dividends. The team was in a position to be successful thanks to the hard work former general manager Garth Snow and his team did. Don’t forget, the Islanders team that made back-to-back third-round appearances is because Snow drafted the right players and they developed them. Plus Doug Weight as coach at the time pushed the Islanders to work hard. The Islanders are taking the next steps in being a champion again thanks to bringing in Lamoriello.
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Just look at some of the moves he made starting last year. He brought in Jean-Gabriel Pageau from Ottawa. He then signed him to a five-year extension. The move has worked wonders, especially in the playoffs. He also brought in Andy Greene from the Devils to add depth to the defence. This past off-season, Lamoriello signed Mathew Barzal to a new contract with a reasonable cap hit. He re-signed Matt Martin. Then he hit another home run at the trade deadline acquiring Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. Those two have added depth to the Islanders roster with the loss of Anders Lee. Palmieri is stepping up recording seven goals this postseason. The most of his career.
As the players have stated, Lamoriello’s track record speaks for itself. The combination of Trotz-Lamoriello has won 27 postseason games. Lamoriello’s name was on 30 of 41 ballots, garnering 12 first-place votes for a total of 104 points. Marc Bergevin of the Canadiens was second with 79 points and received the most first-place votes with 13. Both teams are similarly built for the postseason.
You cannot deny what Lou Lamoriello has done and he continues to get better with age. By winning the general manager of the year award for the second straight season, he is proving he doubters wrong and that he still has the magic touch.