NY Islanders ownership bringing back Lou Lamoriello is the right move
It appears that according to Andrew Gross of Newsday that ownership of the NY Islanders will be bringing Lou Lamoriello back on a new three-year deal. Bringing Lamoriello to be the head of hockey operations is the right move for the Islanders.
Since the spring of 2018 when Lamoriello was hired, he has brought many things to the organization. Starting with his mission statement he's brought that the Islanders and the organization is about being a team first, second, and third, the goals are about team success and the ultimate goal is about championships.
The players know what is expected from them as it comes from the top down and the message is crystal clear from Lamoriello. The culture that Lou has set around the Islanders since he took over has gained the blue and orange a huge amount of respect from around the hockey world, especially the players in the league. We have seen direct evidence of this which started with Barry Trotz signing on to become the head coach. Trotz does not come to the Islanders if Lamoriello is not here.
J.G Pageau and Bo Horvat signed extensions (they were months away from being unrestricted free agents) right after getting traded to the Island. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and other core members signed long-term to the Islanders as well, another indication of what Lamoriello and others have built and how far the organization has come after years of struggling to bring in new players or even retain their own.
In terms of accomplishments, one could argue that other than the Stanley Cup Dynasty team, the years under Lamoriello have been the best stretch the franchise has gone through. There's a reason Lamoriello has won the GM of the Year award twice during his tenure.
To the Nay-Sayers
No one is saying Lamoriello has been perfect. In recent times people have pointed to just one playoff appearance in the last two years and this year's loss in the first round, claiming it's time for a change. However, the year the Isles didn't make the playoffs was largely due to Covid complications that ravaged through Islanders locker room.
This past season the Isles fought, crawled, and did everything they possibly could to make the playoffs (part of the team's DNA) and lost in a tough six-game series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The New Jersey Devils can tell you how good the Canes are and they very well could wind up being the Stanley Cup Champions this year. Lamoriello equipped the Islanders with the right pieces to be in the position they were in such as acquiring Horvat and Pierre Engvall, but they couldn't overcome the injuries when all was said and done.
The biggest move Lamoriello made that maybe he wishes he hadn't was trading Devon Toews. Trading Towes wasn't his plan A, but due to the collapse of the salary cap in the flat cap era, Jos Sakic was able to take advantage of a difficult situation a few summers ago. But that was under his watch so that falls on Lamoriello's report card.
People will point to all the first-round draft picks Lamoriello has moved in trades. Keep in mind practically all the players he traded for in those deals are still key pieces for the Islanders. Those were not rental deals and those players have provided big contributions and hopefully will continue to do so moving forward.
People will also point to the lack of prospects coming through the pipeline and helping this team. That's probably the fairest criticism but Lamoriello did draft Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom, as well as Aatu Raty in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft which was a key piece that landed the Isles Horvat. This time next year the Isles prospect pipeline could be looking a lot better based on the continued development of Matthew Maggio and William Dufour.
It's easy to hear the crowd that claims it's time to hire a younger up-and-coming GM and move on from Lamoriello. The Toronto Maple Leafs hired such a GM back in 2018 in Kyle Dubas, the same time that Lamoriello was hired by the Isles. In that time the Isles have won six-playoff series while the Leafs have won one. The Isles have built themselves around what makes a winning team come playoff time, while Toronto built itself around star players.
At the end of the day, Lamoriello brings strong attributes to a hockey organization. Ownership knows that, they've seen how the Islanders were run before they purchased the franchise. They've seen the difference in respect between the pre and current Lamoriello eras, and they have full confidence that he's still the right man for the job. He acquired Horvat and Engvall, he knows the Islanders need to make improvements. That's already begun and should continue this summer.