Lou Lamoriello's special connection to George Steinbrenner

loulamoriello2.jpgThe death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is one that reaches across all parts of the sports world, even into the realm of hockey. About the one thing that NHL owners ever took away from Steinbrenner when is their ability to fire head coaches at will. While you could argue that Steinbrenner’s presence and ability to use league economics to his advantage aren’t things that completely crossed over into the NHL, his partnership with one large figure in the NHL, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, had a profound effect on him as the NHL’s Mike Morreale finds out.

“(The relationship) was an exceptional one,” Lamoriello said. “I really knew of him and only met him on isolated occasions prior to being involved with the YankeeNets when we were all one group — the Devils, the Nets and the Yankees.

“For whatever reason, we became fairly close and spent considerable time (together) at different times. He was the sole individual responsible for me taking over the Nets when that transpired. His support throughout all of those years was just exceptional. He had me become part of the Yankee family. I still am to this day on their board.”

While your minds are all blown at the fact that Lou Lamoriello works with the New York Yankees in his own way, there’s something about Steinbrenner that Lamoriello took particular pride in. Given some of the quotes that he’s thrown out there lately, it comes as no surprise.

“He was never afraid to say what he thought, which is what I admired about him,” Lamoriello said. “He was committed to the organization, he was committed to the logo and he had strong beliefs. He followed through the best he could.”

Lamoriello fondly recalls Steinbrenner sitting comfortably in his office during the Devils’ Cup-clinching Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

“He watched the final Stanley Cup game in my office because he didn’t want to go in the crowd,” Lamoriello recalled. “He went to a few games, and he was there that seventh game. He did things like that because he wanted to.”

George Steinbrenner the hockey fan. Just imagine Big Stein sitting in on an NHL Board of Governors meeting if he ever got into it so much he bought a team. It’s about the only thing that would be even more entertaining than a Brian Burke press conference.

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    Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

    Patrick Kane

    On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

    In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

    The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

    Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

    (There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

    Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

    ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

    It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

    Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


    So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

    They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

    Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

    Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

    If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

    Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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    For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

    The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

    They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

    It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

    Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
    Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
    Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
    Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

    Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.