As the dog days of the NHL offseason draw near, it becomes increasingly difficult to consistently find fresh hockey-related topics (let alone anything on the Devils) to discuss on a routine basis. The writers here at Devils Army Blog have gotten together for the first of what will become a weekly panel (similar to the Q&A articles) where we’ll submit our input on a set of questions that will largely pertain to one Devils or hockey-related topic or recent piece of news.
With the news of Lou Lamoriello’s shocking resignation and introduction to the Toronto Maple Leafs as their next general manager still fresh in our minds, there was no better scenario to utilize to kick this weekly article series off. I (Mike Luci) kick things off by asking fellow Devils Army Blog writers Alex Chauvancy, Sam Britt, Brett Minieri, and Taz, our website’s founder, their initial reactions to this groundbreaking news on Lamoriello’s new career challenge, how it affects the Devils’ team identity, and who Lou could potentially target on the Devils roster as GM of another team.
From an identity standpoint whose departure was the most impactful? Brodeur or Lamoriello?
AC: From an identity standpoint, I’d have to go with Lamoriello. Without Lamoriello, there could’ve very easily been no Brodeur in New Jersey and that would’ve undoubtedly altered the look of this franchise over the last couple of decades. And that’s not taking anything away from Brodeur, but who knows where Brodeur plays if Lou wasn’t around to draft him in New Jersey. Maybe the Devils would’ve ended up with Trevor Kidd instead. Talk about a franchise altering draft pick. Lou is also grooming GM-to-be, Kyle Dubas, in Toronto. That could be the most impactful thing to happen out of Lou leaving NJ for Toronto. What Dubas can possibly learn from Lou could have a great impact on the team a few years down the road.
SB: Brodeur was probably a more iconic loss for the franchise. When the average hockey fan thinks of the Devils, they think Brodeur. They think of the teams built by Lou, but I think Brodeur is a much more iconic piece of this teams history
BM: Comparing the impact of players and management is like comparing apples and kumquats. But Lamoriello’s impact on the New Jersey Devils is unprecedented and arguably the most impactful in any sport. Brodeur will undoubtedly go down as the most important player in Devils history but over 28 years, and nothing will mitigate what he’s done on the ice—not even 7 days as a St Louis Blue. But Lou has been the “Godfather” and “architect” of one of the most successful franchises in the modern era. Marty may be the most identifiable, but Lou gave the Devils their identity. The team (and the concept of “Devils hockey”) is the brilliant manifestation of Lamoriello’s vision. While there will no doubt be a spot in the rafters for Marty’s number to be retired, there should be a statue outside The Prudential center of Lamoriello.
“Angry, sad, indifferent,” and “happy” appear to be the most common ways Devils fans have responded to the news of Lou Lamoriello’s departure. Which one do you agree with most?
AC: I tend to agree with “happy” about Lou’s departure. I don’t see any reason to be angry or sad that Lou left the team. Yes, he’s done a lot for the team. The Devils are not what they are without him and that will never be taken away from him, but it was time to move on. The team was going to have to move on eventually and not having Lou around benefits Ray Shero. It gives him complete control of the team. Plus, Lou is obviously not ready to call it quits, so it gives him the opportunity to continue to do what he does. It works out for both Lou and the Devils.
SB: I leaned toward the happy side to see Lou leave. I respect all he has done for the franchise and all the success he brought but he was too stubborn for a rebuild. Instead of embracing a youth movement he continued to try to use veterans as temporary fixes to try to keep the team competitive only to have said veterans underperform. I’m happy to see the team take a new direction and I feel it could have only happened if Lou left.
BM: I find myself more sad than anything. There’s certainly no need to be angry—this is a business. His 28-year run was nothing short of spectacular. His 3 (almost 4) Stanley Cups put this team in the pantheon of some of the most respected franchises in hockey. But at 72 years old and after 4 of 5 losing seasons and a recent track record that was less than stellar, change was certain. I don’t think this would be much of a story if he simply resigned the post and didn’t become GM of another team. But beaches and golf are not in this man’s DNA. Devils fans should be nothing short of grateful and even optimistic about their future.
Who is one Devils player you think Lamoriello would realistically try to acquire based on the Maple Leaf’s roster needs?
AC: It depends on what the Leafs are trying to acquire. The Leafs do have some interesting forward prospects, specifically Connor Brown (you can forget about Nylander or Marner), that could interest the Devils. Maybe it’s possible the Devils try to flip one of their younger defenseman for Brown in a prospect swap. Brown is considered to be one of the Leafs top 5 prospects, so it might take a bit to acquire him. It’s possible the Leafs try to acquire Merrill from New Jersey to strengthen their defensive unit. The Devils get a young forward with promise while the Leafs bolster their D. It’d be a good trade for both teams.
SB: If Lou had to acquire a player from the Devils roster I think he would look at Damon Severson. The Leafs could build a blue line for years to come with Severson and Morgan Reilly. Lou always liked having a strong defense core and those two would be a great 1-2 punch. Two young defensemen who could grow together and gain chemistry, akin to a Seabrook and Keith.
BM: Lou doesn’t make rash decisions (as Toronto tends to) and I’m sure he’ll take his time assessing the Maple Leafs roster and shaping it accordingly. He may finally even make decisions on some of the players in the Toronto rumor mill (Bozak, Kadri, Phaneuf, etc.) If there’s one thing Lou is (to a fault) it’s loyal. So to see players he’s familiar with (and who’ve been good soldiers for him) I wouldn’t be surprised to see names like Gomes or Bernier find a spot should he decide they have such needs. Both are certainly capable role players. That said, the one name I wouldn’t be surprised to see most is that of his long time confidant David Conte. If Lou was “the architect” then Conte helped find the right materials for success. He’s obviously in search of anew gig and he may have just found it north of the border.