Lou Lamoriello, the architect of three Stanley Cup championships and five conference titles during his 28 years as president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils, has been named president of hockey operations for the New York Islanders, the team announced Tuesday.
“I am excited to join such a storied franchise and look forward to working with (managing partner) Scott Malkin and the entire New York Islanders organization,” Lamoriello said via statement.
Lamoriello, 75, was most recently the general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs after resigning from the Devils in July 2015. It was announced April 30 that he would move to a senior adviser role with the Leafs, making way for 32-year-old assistant general manager Kyle Dubas to take over the team.
As soon as that happened, there was speculation that Lamoriello would move to the Islanders in some capacity. His son, Chris, is an assistant general manager with the team, having previously been a senior VP of hockey operations for the Devils. This swift move from organization to organization was expected, too; it took Lamoriello less than three months to leave the Devils after they hired Ray Shero as general manager and kicked the veteran executive upstairs. Sportsnet reported May 11 that talks were underway between Lamoriello and the Islanders.
“We are grateful to Larry Tanenbaum and the Toronto Maple Leafs for their courtesy in allowing this move,” Malkin said in a statement. “We are committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization as we pursue our program to compete at the highest level.”
Lamoriello will have the last word on hockey operations decisions. GM Garth Snow has run the team since July 2006. In that time, the Islanders have made the playoffs four times, losing in the first round three times and the second round once.
Snow reportedly has a contract from previous owner Charles Wang with a considerable financial compensation trigger if he is removed from his job, which made removing him financially disadvantageous in previous seasons. But this season saw a significant uptick in criticism for the executive, as “Snow Must Go!” appeared in chants during Islanders home games and on billboards purchased by fans around Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Beyond the makeup of the front office, the biggest question mark surrounding Lamoriello’s takeover of the Islanders is what it means for star center John Tavares, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Speculation in hockey circles was that Tavares would go to market due to the state of the franchise, both on the ice and as it waits for a new arena to be constructed at Belmont Park racetrack. But according to Hockey 30 in Canada and other reports, Lamoriello flew to Mississauga and met with Tavares last week as a proxy for the Islanders, in the hopes of selling the captain on remaining with the team.
Tavares said last month that he was still considering his options.
“It’s a big decision and there’s a lot that goes into it and that’s a big reason why I’ve taken my time,” he said. “For me personally, you realize that you don’t know how many opportunities you get to get to this point and possibly see what the landscape is.”
If Tavares went to market, he would have a slew of serious suitors. But the addition of Lamoriello might be enough to lure him back to the only organization he has played for, on a long-term deal.
Information from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski was used in this report.