BY VIN A. CHERWOO and STEPHEN WHYNO
NEW YORK (AP) — Lou Lamoriello is back in charge of an NHL team and will have full control with the New York Islanders.
The Islanders hired Lamoriello president of hockey operations Tuesday, saying the 75-year-old longtime executive will have “full authority over all hockey matters with the organization.”
The move throws into uncertainty the future of current president and general manager Garth Snow and potentially coach Doug Weight and could give the team a fresh chance to re-sign face of the franchise John Tavares before he can become a free agent.
Lamoriello comes to a team that has missed the playoffs eight of the last 12 seasons with Snow as GM. Recalling the team’s glory days from a generation ago, Lamoriello said he is “excited to join such a storied franchise.”
Son Chris Lamoriello has been the team’s assistant general manager since 2016.
Islanders managing partner Scott Malkin said in a statement the team is “committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization.” It was not immediately clear what that means for Snow, who has four years left on his contract.
Lamoriello’s hiring was first reported by The Athletic, which said Snow’s deal has a “steep buyout.”
But Lamoriello didn’t go to the Islanders to share power. He left New Jersey to become Toronto’s GM in 2015 when he was bumped upstairs and replaced by Ray Shero and is making a similar move after being shifted into an advisory role with the Maple Leafs, who promoted Kyle Dubas.
Lamoriello led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles during 18 years as GM before three years running the Maple Leafs. Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said on April 30 that Lamoriello would not return next season, sticking to a plan that called for him to serve as general manager for three years and then transition to senior adviser for four years.
Asked that day about leaving Toronto if another offer came along, Lamoriello said it was his intent to honor an agreement made three years ago to become an adviser and added, “There are no other thoughts in my mind at this point.” By that point, there was already buzz about Lamoriello talking to the Islanders.
Malkin thanked the Maple Leafs for their “courtesy in allowing this move.” The Islanders needed permission from Toronto to speak with Lamoriello because he was still under contract.
Lamoriello’s first task will be attempting to re-sign Tavares, who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1. The 27-year-old just wrapped up the final year of a six-year, $33 million contract. He had 37 goals and 47 assists this season, finishing a goal and an assist shy of the career highs he set in 2014-15.
The Islanders have missed the playoffs the last two years. They reached the second round of the postseason in 2016, their only series win since 1993. New York was 35-37-10 this season in Weight’s first full season.
Lamoriello ran New Jersey’s hockey operations from 1987 to 2015, during which the team reached the Stanley Cup Final five times and won the title in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
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