To the surprise of no one, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello expressed confidence in his group on Monday when meeting with the media for the first time since the NHL Draft in June. Whatever the plan was this off-season, announcing three RFA signing on August 22nd and not signing one NHL free agent was not it.
For that reason, fans had difficulty comprehending that the same GM that put his forward group on notice and spoke to "hockey trades" being how the team would get better this off-season could express so much confidence in maintaining the status quo.
While fans expressed disappointment in the Isles' underwhelming off-season, the stoic hockey executive remains resolute in his belief that the Islanders have the players and new coach in place to compete for a playoff spot and beyond as currently constructed.
Lamoriello's initial plan this offseason didn't come to pass, and neither did Plan B or Plan C. It's unlikely that he'll ever speak to the reasons behind why a signing or trade did or didn't transpire. However, he will simply state in a businesslike tone that if there were a move to improve the team, he would have made it.
"There shouldn’t be any disappointment from anyone. When we hear the word disappointment, I wonder what that is. Free agents have to make decisions, and also teams have to make decisions. There’s no disappointment where we’re at because we feel very good about who we are, or we would have made drastic changes last year if we didn’t feel good about the group we have and what they’re capable of doing. I say that with comfortability. I say that with confidence. We’re looking forward to getting back at it and proving everybody wrong."- Lou Lamoriello
To some, Lamoriello is trying to have it both ways. But rather than view his comments as a hedge against his ability or inability to improve the roster, let's remember that Lamoriello doesn't deal in nuance. Things are black and white. What appears to be complicated decisions from the outside remain simplified for Lamoriello.
In his mind, how could he be disappointed about not making a deal that he didn't believe was best for the organization? Pursuing opportunities to make the team better? That's his job, and he did that to his satisfaction and wasn't going to make a trade for making a trade's sake or because he said something to the media five months ago.
Fans are not wired like Lou Lamoriello; few in the general population are.
When we're frustrated, we show it. When something doesn't go our way, we are prone to making emotional decisions. If a mistake is made, we dwell on it, we lament, we get angry. And as time passes, we realize that doing all of that didn't change a thing. It didn't get any closer to the things we want or the objectives we set. It was a waste of time.
Lamoriello doesn't do that. He remains true to the lifelong system of actions, beliefs, and processes used to achieve his goals. Debating whether he made the right or wrong decision can be left to us; he's looking forward to the season ahead with the team he constructed for Lane Lambert.
Yes, the plan changed, and perhaps it's still evolving. But for the soon-to-be 80-year-old GM, the end goal can still be reached by applying the same mindset and principled approach that has served him well for decades. When a new path emerges, a new plan will be conceived, and if it doesn't work out, he'll be on to the next one. The rest of us will just have to deal with it.