And Now For Something Completely Different: How Will Lamoriello Fit in With the Leafs Front Office?


It may be a bit premature to discuss how Lou Lamoriello will
fit in with the current make up of the Leafs front office, but when random news
like this comes down on a Thursday morning and seems so radically different
from the direction the organization is going in, it seems like speculating
wildly as soon as possible may be the best approach. After all it’s July, and
we’re not going to see another hockey story this big for quite some time.

The optimistic view at this point is that Lamoriello is another
voice in the room that will ultimately report up to decision maker Brendan
Shanahan. It’s Shanahan’s show, it’s the Shanaplan, he’s the boss. Dubas and
Hunter will still be the chief architects of the rebuild, but Lamoriello will
be the navigator of the NHL old boys club and use his network so the Leafs can,
I dunno, get a bigger return on their star players when they decide to sell
them off.

In this ideal scenario, Lamoriello is less of a traditional
GM, and more of a Lead Negotiator, and that seems wonderful. The Leafs would
have one of the best analytics people, one of the best scouts, one of the best
capologists, one of the best coaches, and one of the best negotiators in the
game working towards a common goal. This is likely going to be the picture
painted for us in the coming weeks, but the reality of Lamoriello is far

Yes, it looks like the Leafs have a true old school GM. He’s
likely the guy calling the shots, making the final personal decisions, and
likely going with his gut over evidence because his years of experience have
greater value to him. I can’t say that I 100% buy that this is what is going to
happen, because if you look at what Lamoriello did, he took a bottomed out New
Jersey team, went through a long rebuild, turned them into a dynasty of sorts
on the backs of a young core, and played a style of hockey that was new and
innovative for its time.

We can crap on how the Devils have been the past few years,
but since relocating to Newark they’ve fought to stay somewhat competitive
because of the need for revenue, and a little loyalty to core players from
championship teams isn’t a horrible thing. Rarely where they paid like they
were in their prime, and it’s also worth remembering the Devils are only four
seasons removed from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

Certainly having Babcock on board would be a huge plus in
this as well. Lamoriello has always been at his best when he’s had a coach of
Babcock’s ilk. The Lemaire and Burns years were the best years from the Devils,
maybe this two great hockey minds can click as well.

The relationship with Hunter and Dubas will be the tricky
part. As much as I will try to warm up to the hiring of Lamoriello, I certainly
wouldn’t want either of these two key contributors to become marginalized.
Dubas has shown his value this offseason and Hunter has given the Leafs their
best draft in history. Though there’s already speculation that Lou has his own
guys in mind…

Again, something along the lines of this isn’t the end of
the world (ignore Conte’s recent draft history). Lou is likely going to bring
in at least one of his guys at some point and we’ll have to be prepared for
that. Cliff Fletcher is a Senior Advisor, I’d imagine that would be a role we
could see someone like Conte fill as well.

I’m sure we’ll have a much clearer picture of the front
office following the press conference, but until then we at least have what
looks like a complete front office organizational chart.


(make bigger)

  • Jeremy Ian

    Well, there is a concept called “adversarial collaboration” – not sure if Shanahan’s been reading his Nobel Prize winners. But if he has, it does seem like this is the model. It means using dissent and disagreement to make smarter decisions.

    Puts a lot of pressure on the collaborators to understand their roles. It’s really hard to trade differences if collaborators get ego-involved or have autocratic styles; you have to be willing not to win all your battles. LL may not have that temperament.

    And it’s going to test Shanahan’s leadership.

    But when it works, it can lead to outstanding results. A lot of firms are experimenting with this model.

  • How does a tyrant last 28 years and have the success that Lou has had? I’m thinking the idea that Lou will clash with the rest of the brain trust is overblown. Obviously he’s not afraid to make the big decisions and take the responsibility but I can’t imagine he has done what he has done without listening to all the smart people he could. And at 73, he’s probably mature enough to want to cement the legacy by passing on the Lou Lamoriello “way”. If Scotty Bowman can become a mentor….

  • I like this move. Finally they bring in much needed experience to replace what they lost when they fired the potato.

    And this is a message to Dubas that he has a lot of learning and growth to undertake if he wants to become a GM. He is not ready to be GM yet and with shoes like Lou to fill, he has years and year before he is ready to fully manage the biggest team in the NHL

  • Benjamin

    Its been a few hours and I’m already sick of the ‘Lou’s a top cheese, big shark, my way or the highway guy’ narrative.

    First, this is the f-ng NHL, everyone is a shark. The only question is: do you build around the traditional ‘one big shark’ model or the progressive ‘many collaborating sharks’ model.

    I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that EVERY decision the Leafs have made during Shanahan’s tenure has been building along the lines of the second model. The most recent, in-your-face example was Hunter completely running the draft, literally going up to the stage and making the announcements.

    So, do people seriously think they would make a decision that would undo EVERYTHING they’ve tried to build these last two years?

    Second, let’s not ignore that Lou already consented to a lesser role in NJ. Or that he recently adopted a weird, three-coach model. Or that his pride has undoubtedly been stung by the state he’s left NJ in.

    Lou will have a pretty big part to play in Leafs management over the next few years, I’m not denying that. But, make no mistake, it is a part.

  • giproc

    I was hoping for an upcoming next generation GM like Futa rather than one from the previous generation. But Lou’s connections with everyone in the league from Bettman down should create a wonderful blackbook resource for Dubas and the rest of the OHLers when Lou finally steps aside.

    I’d still prefer to see Lou in a Senior Adviser type role rather than smack in the middle of the decision-making process as GM with supposed autonomy. Hopefully Shanny will allow all of the mgmt team to concentrate on what they do best and leave Lou to make the phone calls to shake down other GMs.