At the end of April, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brendan Shanahan in particular, announced that they would not be changing the plan to have Lou Lamoriello step aside as General Manager and move into a senior advisory role. Though they didn’t immediately name a successor to Lamoriello, many believe it will either be Kyle Dubas or Mark Hunter, both of whom are already with the organization. But for the outgoing executive, speculation immediately began over whether he would be satisfied with the reduced role.
When Lamoriello was pushed out in a similar way with the New Jersey Devils, it didn’t take him long to find another GM opening in Toronto. He left the franchise that he’d been with for decades for the new opportunity with the Maple Leafs, thanks in large part to the extremely close relationship he and Shanahan have maintained for quite some time. Now, as he steps aside and allows one of the younger, less experienced executives to take over in Toronto, he could repeat his steps and move on to another organization once again.
Last night, Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted out that there is “a decided uptick” in speculation regarding Lamoriello and the New York Islanders, something that Darren Dreger repeated on TSN radio this morning. Neither of the two insiders could provide any real knowledge of an imminent move, but many others have pondered the same move since Lamoriello’s son Chris is already with the organization and there is talk of current GM Garth Snow moving into a more senior role. Interestingly, Dreger notes that there could be a scenario where Lamoriello moves into a role with the Islanders that is not that of GM, though his influence would certainly still be felt in that front office.
The legendary executive has helped rebuild the Maple Leafs after more than a decade of disappointment, though the team has yet to take the leap and win a playoff series under his leadership. With Toronto still a young team with several developing stars, there are some key decisions to be made by the front office in the coming months and years. Even with Dubas or Hunter at the helm, having Lamoriello there for assistance and guidance wouldn’t be a bad thing.
In New York though they might be even more in need. The Islanders are heading into a crucial few months for the franchise, with John Tavares defining his career with his next decision. The pending unrestricted free agent could likely play his entire career with one organization if he signs long-term in New York, or could chase the money and a Stanley Cup somewhere else. He’ll have plenty of suitors, and an experienced negotiator like Lamoriello could be of use to the team as they try to lock down the face of the franchise.
As they head into the next chapter in their history, with a new arena being built and set to open in a few years, the Islanders need to solve the problems that have limited them to barely any playoff success in recent times. If Tavares returns, the team has to find a way to solve their defense and goaltending issues and allow their talented offensive unit to take them on a deep playoff run. If Snow is moving into a different position, perhaps Lamoriello is the person to take them there.