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Lou Lamoriello on Team Building

All hail the core.

New York Islanders Training Session
One for all.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Lou Lamoriello has continued to make the media rounds while also getting to work on evaluating the project he’s inherited as the new president of hockey operations for the New York Islanders.

Talking to NHL Network’s Jackie Redmond, EJ Hradek and Devils legend Ken Daneyko, he re-iterated he’s taking an observe-and-see approach:

“You can look at something from the outside and start having some sort of opinions — which is the worst thing you can do.” [Ed. note: Humbled, are we fans and writers.]

“What I’m doing right now is coming in, no different than what I’ve done in the past, whether with Toronto or New Jersey and Kenny can attest to this, just take a step back, try to get as much information as I possibly can. Speak to people individually, collectively, because I really don’t know [most of the people here], just get to know them, get their opinions on how they see certain things, and I’ll form my opinion at that time.”

“As far as what has to be done, it’s too premature — there are many things in terms of priorities, but that’s no different anywhere. Until you really find out, you really don’t know.

That is consistent with everything he’s said since taking over the job, so you’ve like heard some form of it already. Daneyko got him to talk about dealing with modern players and his sense of team-building, and there in his admiration for the Vegas Golden Knights — something he’s mentioned in a few interviews — you could really hear Lamoriello’s classic “name on the front, not on the back” team ethic:

“I feel extremely comfortable that the things we did in New Jersey, as far as the fundamental approach, the accountability, getting the players to understand it’s all about the logo, the commitment. None of that should and can change to have success.

“All we have to do is look at Las Vegas, what they’ve done with a group of guys — talented, but not in the elite category of other teams, because they would’ve protected them, although they are elite in what they’ve become — all of that is the same. That will never change.”

On other changes in the game:

“The game, the style, the speed is prevalent more so than ever. The youth is tere and ready to play more than they used to be. The parity is there. Old school, when you [Ken] were playing we had free agency not until [age] 31, 32, 33, so you could develop them the way you should. This game today, we lose players because we don’t give them enough time to develop, but we have to find out about them because free agency comes at an early age.

“So there are so many things you adjust that are different. But the question you asked, what it takes to win, what it takes to compete, the character, all of that will never change. If you don’t have that approach, you won’t be able to sustain winning for a period of time with your core players. You might have a flash-in-the-pan year, one year where you have success. but you have to have that fundamental group to go forward. So that’s what you try to get, that core, and that core has to be not only quality players but quality people.”

With how he’s praised John Tavares “as a person,” you can imagine all the more that he’ll see Tavares as a key to retain in that core, and he’s probably used this kind of language to pitch retaining the Islanders captain.

They asked him specifically about Tavares, and he was of course coy, but of course he returned the topic to #91’s importance to “the group.”

Here’s the full interview: