Congratulations to Lou Lamoriello, Chief Executive Officer, President, and General Manager of the New Jersey Devils who was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame today.
As needless to remind Devils fans as it may be, Lou’s greatest accomplishments include five visits to the Stanley Cup Championship as head honcho of the organization. His prominent tenure as the Devils GM has lasted since 1987 (longer than any active General Manager,) and his leadership has brought the Stanley Cup home to New Jersey in 3 of 5 visits (1995, 2000, and 2003.)
It didn’t take long for Lamoriello to be associated with New Jersey Devils success. His first year as acting General Manager led them to their first winning season in six years as an NHL team. The 1987 Devils squad made it as far in the playoffs as the Wales Conference Finals (now known as the Eastern Conference Finals,) but lost to the Boston Bruins. Since the dramatic turnaround of the club in 1987, the New Jersey Devils have been present in the Stanley Cup playoffs in all but two seasons.
Lamoriello’s dedication to the sport of hockey can be traced to his college years at Providence College in Rhode Island. He was team captain for the school’s hockey team during his senior year, and he later served as the head coach for the team in 1968. In 1983, he brought the team the nation’s best record and its first trip to the Frozen Four (college hockey’s “Final Four”) for the first time in 19 years. Later, he helped form the Hockey East Association which later joined forces with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to bring collegiate-level hockey to television programming for the first time ever.
Lamoriello’s acclaim also includes a trophy honored in his name for winners of the Hockey East Championship; a league that he was named the first commissioner of. Lamoriello is also famous for appointing legendary college basketball coach Rick Pitino as the team’s head coach while serving as Providence’s athletic director. Also, in 1996, he was GM of the gold-winning, USA hockey team that defeated Canada at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lamoriello has earned the respect of and admiration of many famous names in the sports world. Famous sports journalist, Mike Lupica regarded Lamoriello’s success without “outspending the world every year.” Lupica also added that Lou has “done what he has done mostly by being smart and tough and holding the whole thing together by himself sometimes.”
Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has said Lou is a “model for our business” with regards to the NHL. He also said, while speaking about the Devils in particular, that they “are not just the best-run franchise in the NHL, it’s the best-run franchise in pro sports.”
Comments like those can make a Devil (CEO, player, or fan) blush. But, in return, his past comments have returned the favor for the players, in the least.
“I like to think of my players as a family,” Lamoriello has been quoted by in Sporting News. “And I like to think the success we’ve had through the years shows that the players value that as much as they do the Stanley Cups, knowing that the two go hand in hand.
Follow Sean McDermott on Twitter @HEYYuSUCK