Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lou Lamoriello, Hall of Famer

This came out on Wednesday...Lamoriello named to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. He's already an NHL Hall of Famer. Congrats Lou!

Lou is currently the longest serving NHL General Manager (25 years now, and 25 of the Devils' 30 years in NJ). His resume includes time as a High School Math teacher in Rhode Island before joining Providence College in 1968 where he coached the men's Ice Hockey team for 15 years (so next time he fires a coach and steps behind the bench, don't say he's not qualified, just say he's crazy for doing it again). He became athletic director at Providence in his final year of coaching, and took the Friars to the Frozen Four for the first time in almost 20 years that season. He brought in now-legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino who led the Friars to the Final Four in Lou's last year with Providence in 1987.

His biggest accomplishment at Providence Hockey was to form the Hockey East Conference 29 years ago this month, and brought together the first-ever college hockey TV package. He was also the first commissioner of Hockey East and the championship trophy bares his name.

He stepped down to become the President of the New Jersey Devils 25 years ago, where he named himself General Manager. His Devils clubs have been a model of success (they only missed the playoffs 3 times in 24 actual seasons since Lamoriello took over, not counting the missed season of 2004-05) winning 3 Stanley Cups and making the Finals 2 other times. He was a visionary, bringing in Russian hockey players at a time when such a thing was unheard of. That story is told here in Rich Chere's story about Lou in the Star Ledger upon his 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
“I recall it as clear as day,” Lamoriello said. “I was going over there (specifically to Moscow) because they had given us the impression that Slava would be able to come. I went there with a contract, and I can still remember walking up four flights of stairs. I went there alone.
“I took another step and met him in Germany when they were training. I had (former director of player personnel) Marshal Johnston come and, I have to admit, I asked Slava to defect.

Opening the door for the Russian players helped change the course of the NHL.

Lou Lamoriello was also the GM of Team USA Hockey for their comeback win in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Olympics.

Congratulations again Lou Lamoriello!

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