Lou Lamoriello has spent all 33 of his years as an NHL general manager preaching team success over individual success.
That continued Tuesday night when the Islanders boss made NHL history as the first two-time winner of the Jim Gregory GM of the Year award, and the 78-year-old opted to dedicate his acceptance speech to all the people within his organization.
“Winning an award such as this is very humbling,” Lamoriello said in a video posted by the NHL. “It’s very difficult because it shouldn’t be one person being recognized. It’s an award that really embraces what the organization has accomplished throughout the year.
“I accept humbly on behalf of our owner, Scott Malkin, and his partners, who have given us over the past three years, every tool necessary to have success; our coaching staff, led by Barry Trotz; our players, led by our captain, Anders Lee; our entire hockey operations, led by Chris Lamoriello and Steve Pellegrini, my very capable assistants; and who really is the backbone of all of us, Joanne Holewa (manager, hockey operations).”
Lamoriello has built his Islanders from the same mold he has tried to use throughout his entire career as a general manager: With coaches, players and executives who value the team logo on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back.
That sort of identity worked wonders during his more than 18-year run as president and general manager of the Devils, when he won three Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Aside from the three titles, the Devils made the playoffs 21 times, finished with 100 or more points in 13 seasons, won nine division titles and made five trips to the Cup Final under Lamoriello.
The Devils were built on defense and goaltending during Lamoriello’s tenure in New Jersey, similar to the Islanders now. Lamoriello also served as general manager of the Maple Leafs for three seasons from 2015-2018, reaching the postseason in the final two seasons despite losing in the first round.
Considering how much emphasis the Hockey Hall of Famer has put on the Isles being a defense-first club, plus establishing a one-of-a-kind team culture, Lamoriello has seemingly taken bits from all his experiences as general manager and poured it into this third franchise.
It’s clear that Lamoriello came into his role with the Islanders with a specific vision of what he wanted to do.
“His vision was what you’re probably seeing right now,” Trotz said Wednesday ahead of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Lightning at Nassau Coliseum. “We’re gonna go into a fantastic new building, we wanted to build a competitive team, year in and year out. We thought probably it would take some time, been fortunate we’ve got some really good people who bought into our vision, or Lou’s vision. And we’ve been fairly competitive since Day 1.
“That’s been probably a little bit of a blessing and it’s not a total surprise but the turnaround that we had, obviously with the loss of John [Tavares] and some of the other things that were going on, that we’ve been able to sort of stabilize it and be competitive. We’ve got a fantastic facility to practice in, our ownership is rock solid and behind everything that we do, from staffing to a player standpoint I don’t know if you’re going to be treated any better.”
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