When Lou Lamoriello was named President of Hockey Operations for the New York Islanders, a change was needed and expected.
But I don’t believe anyone could have foreseen just how fast he’s already started to mold the Isles in the way he has envisioned. It’s taken a measly three weeks for 25 years of incompetence and the “country club” frame of mind to be wiped away from Isles fans mentality. Optimism is now the name of the game amongst the natives and rightfully so.
The report this week that John Tavares is leaning toward an extension with the franchise not only proves that Tavares is and always has been a loyal soldier, but that John himself now got a sense of the bigger picture that Lamoriello has for the present and the future.
It’s well documented about how Lamoriello over the years has dealt with his star players when it comes to the loyalty factor. When he was running the Devils, Lou always made his first priority installing that corporate but staunch culture. Lamoriello was able to sign future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur to team-friendly contracts over his long stint, he kept d-man Ken Daneyko his whole career; seeing him play over 1,200-plus games in a Devils sweater, as well as many other transactions.
“I like to think of my players as a family,” Lamoriello once said. I think Tavares has wanted to see that type of shift in the organization for quite a while now — better late than never.
But that family aspect also has had to ring true in some ways with the star captain because there everything was hush-hush about him and the organization before Lou stepped in. Lou has the vision, Tavares has and always will be at the forefront of it.
It was also reported — by Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank — this week that Lamoriello has been hot on the search for a new bench boss, and could likely have one in place before the draft this coming Friday.
Lamoriello pointed out that he was going to tab the best coach possible to lead the Isles out of the wilderness, and that some coaches are not meant to coach certain teams. But even with all the names out there, Lou knows who the right guy is. The next head coach of this team is going to be his guy. That Lou guy is going to ingrain what Lamoriello wants from his teams — discipline, speed, defense-first mentality, and a hard-work ethic.
Looking above the coaching search, Lou has immediately made the front office decisions to be based on his standards.
Bringing in former colleague and respected hockey lifer Steve Pellegrini as an assistant G.M. to work adjacent to son Chris Lamoriello, personifies that the franchise is finally resorting to people who are qualified to do their jobs. Make no mistake, Pellegrini will not be the only acquisition that Lou recruits as he continues to transform the Isles front office from small market to big market. Mark Hunter next month, anyone?
The next seven days could be a real rollercoaster ride for the Lamoriello, Islanders and their fans. But at the moment, how he has quickly guided the organization with his new titles and seeing more positive development taking place in and around the franchise, exhibits that this is only just the beginning of the new Lamoriello led Islanders.
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