Brooklyn Boro

Lamoriello speaks of Isles’ return to glory

But team president remains mum on Tavares, Snow and Weight

May 23, 2018 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lou Lamoriello is still getting a feel for the organization he will be running, refusing to make any statements regarding the future of current general manager Garth Snow or head coach Doug Weight. AP Photo by Mel Evans
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Lou Lamoriello was still the head coach/athletic director at Providence College when Denis Potvin hoisted the last of the Islanders’ four consecutive Stanley Cups while skating around the Nassau Coliseum.

But the vision remains with him to this day, 35 years after one of the greatest teams in NHL history completed its historic run.

“I have so many positive recollections of the Islanders because [then-general manager] Bill Torrey was an outstanding friend to me from day one,” Lamoriello recalled during his first conference call with local reporters Tuesday, shortly after the Islanders officially announced that the 75-year-old Hall of Fame executive was the team’s new President of Hockey Operations.

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“Even when I was in the college ranks I communicated with Bill. We had been friends up until — unfortunately — his passing.”

Torrey, who oversaw the last NHL team to win four consecutive Cups and advance to five straight Finals, passed on May 2, leaving behind a legacy that Lamoriello is eager to restore, if not match, during his latest rebuilding stint.

The overlord of three Stanley Cups titles in New Jersey, along with two other Finals appearances, is looking to bring his new Brooklyn-based NHL franchise back to relevance on the league’s landscape, and perhaps even help the Isles climb the attendance charts, where they ranked dead last in 2017-18.

“I’ve known a lot about [the Islanders] and watched their team and anytime you have an organization win the number of championships they have won, in the period of time they won it with the type of core players and character they had, you know a lot about it,” Lamoriello added.

While he gushed about his relationship with Torrey, recalled the Isles’ halcyon days of the 1980s and admitted he was more forlorn about the two Stanley Cups the Devils lost than elated over the three they won, Lamoriello remained tight-lipped regarding the decisions on the table for the team he just inherited.

He referred to team captain and pending unrestricted free agent John Tavares as “a quality individual as well as a quality player,” confirming that he had spoken to the Isles’ most valuable asset, but not indicating whether the 27-year-old, two-time Hart Trophy finalist was willing to re-sign with the only NHL franchise he has ever skated for.

Lamoriello also took a pass on the futures of current general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight, both of whom could be out of a job if the new boss deems that their respective visions don’t concur with his own.

“Right now, I have no preconceived notions,” Lamoriello insisted as the Isles’ brain trust prepared for next month’s NHL Draft and Tavares’ free-agency courting period, which begins about a week before his unrestricted status takes hold on July 1.

“I have certainly spoken to the people there as I’ve done in the past in a situation like this,” Lamoriello added. “I take a step back and see exactly what the people who you have in place have to offer, what their thoughts are and vision is, and then make decisions as I go along.”

The Islanders have the 11th and 12th overall pick in the June 22-23 Draft, which will be held in Dallas. They also have a pair of second-round picks.

Lamoriello, who is coming off a massive rebuilding project in Toronto, where he helped the Maple Leafs go from NHL-worst to back-to-back playoff appearances within three years, will be the overseer of the Isles’ new direction, be it in the draft room, via free agency or by trading young assets for veteran talent.

“We will have to evaluate everything in a short period of time, but not at a rushed pace,” Lamoriello noted.

“You have to use whatever time you have to do whatever you feel is the right decision. There’s no timeframe for anything, but when there is time, you use it. When there isn’t, you make a decision.”

Those decisions, and there will be plenty over the next several weeks, are ones Lamoriello will make with the future of this organization in mind, be it here in Brooklyn, back at the Nassau Coliseum or, ultimately, in Belmont, N.Y.

And all of them will be made with a single goal in mind, according to Lamoriello.

“I also look at it as a challenge to bring the Islanders back to where they were,” he said.

Isle Have Another: “I have nothing but positive feelings about what transpired in Toronto,” Lamoriello said of his time with the Maple Leafs, which ended two weeks ago after his three seasons as GM. Lamoriello was supposed to serve out the remainder of his original seven-year deal as a senior advisor, but the Isles swooped in and asked Larry Tannenbaum, Toronto’s Team Chairman, for permission to lure the legendary exec to Downtown Brooklyn. “I gave it a bit of time, and I understood that the call came again,” Lamoriello intimated on WFAN Tuesday. “I was very impressed with [Islanders co-owner Scott Malkin’s] commitment to getting the Islanders back to where they were … I felt very comfortable with [Malkin], and the quality of the partners he has, so here I am, an Islander.” … Malkin said earlier this week that Lamoriello would have, “every resource and the full support of the entire organization as we pursue our program to compete at the highest level.”  That philosophy will likely begin with an eight-year, $100-million plus deal for Tavares.


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