Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan shocked the hockey world by naming longtime New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello the new General Manager in Toronto. In true Lou fashion, the media knew nothing of the hiring beforehand, and the move left more than few people in the NHL community with more than a few questions: Why would Lamoriello, at 72 years old, leave New Jersey for a full-time GM job? How could Lamoriello, who refused to tank for McDavid with the Devils last year, not have a conflicting ideas with the existing management? Why would the Leafs’ management, one of the most progressive groups in the league, hire Lamoriello, a bastion of Old School philosophy who many think has lost touch with the game?
The answers as to why Shanahan hired Lou, and as to why Lou would take another GM job are simple: Lou Lamoriello still very much wants to run a team, and Shanahaan wants him to inject a winning culture into Toronto, and to whip the entire organization into shape. In New Jersey, Lamoriello ran one of the tightest ships in professional sports, and Shanahan is hoping that the Hall Of Fame’s relentless micromanagement will establish the same thing with the Maple Leafs. Much of the management and scouting of the team has already been set up by Shanahan for Lamoriello to organize, so even if you aren’t convinced of his ability to make personnel decisions, rest easy knowing that he probably won’t be making big changes to the staff. As to these notions that he has lost touch with the modern NHL: I think the descent of the Devils franchise has less to do with Lamoriello making lots of poor decisions, and more due to declining performance of the team’s scouting department, and Lou being reluctant to hold them accountable, out of loyalty. Given that Lamoriello is now 72, and that Kyle Dubas is already being groomed to be GM, I doubt that Lou will be in charge long enough for that problem to arise again.
Maybe he gets frustrated by the lack of power in terms of personnel, and maybe he clashes with Mike “Unfireable” Babcock, but he was aware of the conditions in Toronto when he took the job. Lou’s there to build a throne for Kyle Dubas to sit in, and he’s as capable of doing that as anyone in the sport. This is a great move for the Toronto Maple Leafs.