Lou Lamoriello has been the Toronto Maple Leafs GM since 2015, but in the minds of most New York area hockey fans, he will always be connected with the New Jersey Devils, the team he guided for over 20 seasons and to three Stanley Cups.
Could he actually end up with the Islanders?
Probably not. But thanks to Elliotte Friedman (and to a lesser extent Nick Kypreos) of Sportsnet, the smoke is starting to waft into the air, which may lead to some fire.
Friedman isn’t the first to mention the possibility of the Islanders chasing the 75-year-old Lamoriello, but once he puts a note in his post-first round 31 Thoughts column, it makes it kind of unofficially official.
5. This is me thinking out loud, but I’d be curious to see if the Islanders ask to speak to Lamoriello should Toronto not keep him in the same position. Son Chris is already there, and Lamoriello has a good relationship with GM Garth Snow. There’s some logic to it.
Toronto-based hockey media has been all over John Tavares’s free agency, but a close second is Lamoriello’s. The GM is a free agent as of June 30, and the Leafs have a number of possible in-house replacements led by wunderkind assistant Kyle Dubas.
Friedman notes the connections to the Islanders, and Arthur Staple expanded upon those via his Twitter:
Mentioned in @FriedgeHNIC's 31 Thoughts and by @RealKyper today on radio: Lou Lamoriello and the #Isles. Nothing's been decided in Toronto yet and Lou does have his son and Chris Terreri in #Isles org. He and Snow are tight. It makes sense, but logic isn't always the best guide.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) April 26, 2018
With the Malkin/Ledecky evaluation timeline going pretty deep into the offseason, if there's a move to be made, Lamoriello makes sense because of his ties to people already in #Isles org and to Snow, who would seemingly move upstairs. Something to watch for sure.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) April 26, 2018
So wheels are in motion, right, John Shannon?
As of last night, Islanders ownership had not approached MLSE to talk to Lou Lamoriello, who’s contract expires on June 30th.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) April 26, 2018
On TSN Radio, insider Darren Dreger said that any Lamoriello speculation isn’t based on any actual knowledge coming out of the Leafs front office, but he believes that Lou expects to be back in Toronto next season (around the 3:25 mark).
(Side Note: Funny how Dreger is very adamant about no one taking his Lamoriello discussion out of context, but doesn’t have too much of a problem saying “I believe John Tavares would want to play for the Montreal Canadiens.” Just an observation.)
An Adult in the Room
The Islanders have been quiet (...too quiet) since the end of the season, aside from their now legendarily awkward post-season media conference. At that availability, co-owner Jon Ledecky said that the entire hockey operations staff will be evaluated this summer, giving fans at least a little hope that the team might actually get some new voices sometime in the very near future.
But with a coaching staff that’s only been in place for one full season and a general manager who’s been on the job for 12 years and working on a rumored lengthy contract extension that may or may not come with a large buyout, how much change could actually happen if a complete house-cleaning isn’t an option?
Lamoriello - again, assuming he doesn’t re-sign with the Leafs tomorrow - makes sense in that his seniority in the league means he can step into any team’s front office and immediate be the alpha dog. When Ledecky and Scott Malkin went on their hunt for a team president, which yielded no one, the big question was what outsider could possibly step in cold and tell the guy who’s been the boss for a dozen years what to do.
Lamoriello could be that guy. He could also instantly publicly infuse the Islanders, a travelling puppet show that only performs scripts from canceled direct-to-video Slap Shot sequels, with the illusion that there is finally an adult in the room.
That won’t last forever, of course. As good as the Leafs have gotten so quickly, they’ve still got some holes in their lineup. And let’s not forget that Lou’s final seasons with the Devils were not great ones aside from their out-of-nowhere run to the Stanley Cup final in 2012. Whether he stays with the Leafs or goes, there’s no telling what role he wants to have moving forward or whether he’d even want to come to Brooklyn/Long Island.
Lamoriello is known as a stern task master with his players’ responsibilities (so goodbye Mathew Barzal interviews), a tough bastard negotiator with RFAs (sorry, Ryan Pulock), and a man who has never met a contract loophole he couldn’t exploit. His hypothetical addition wouldn’t necessarily make the Islanders instantly better, but he certainly couldn’t hurt, either. Right?
Right now, the Islanders need something - anything - to get fans to believe that the franchise has even the slightest clue about just how far away from being a contender they are. It’s not exactly what I wanted - which was that full house-cleaning that probably was never happening anyway - but I’ll take a septuagenarian Godfather if he becomes available.
Even if it means Nick Leddy would have to shave his amazing beard.