It seems Lou Lamoriello’s departure from New Jersey might be different from Ray Shero’s move to the Devils in a key way.
Since Shero joined the Devils as their general manager, he has leaned on his former employees with the Penguins to help fill important positions. On Friday it was announced that Tom Fitzgerald was leaving the Penguins to become the Devils’ assistant general manager and the Devils’ new head coach, John Hynes, previously worked for Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate.
Lamoriello, who has resigned as president of the Devils to take over as the Maple Leafs’ general manager, doesn’t plan on bringing any members of New Jersey’s staff with him, per the Bergen Record. He doesn’t even anticipate his son, Chris, joining him in Toronto. Chris Lamoriello has been with New Jersey for 18 years and has spent the past 14 serving as the general manager for the Devils’ AHL affiliate. He holds the title of senior vice president of hockey operations.
“Chris is a New Jersey Devil and he’s a good hockey person,” Lamoriello said. “His fate is in Ray’s hands.”
One person from Lamoriello’s past that might join Toronto though is David Conte as the long-time director of scouting was fired in July after Shero took over.
With the dust settling on Devils president Lou Lamoriello’s surprising departure, New Jersey announced another front office move.
Tom Fitzgerald has left his post as the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager to join the Devils, where he will have the same job title. That might raise some eyebrows, but there are some probable reasons for this move.
The first might be a simply a matter of familiarity. Fitzgerald has spent most of his post-playing career working for former Penguins and current Devils GM Ray Shero. He’s similarly familiar with new Devils head coach John Hynes, who previously served as the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ bench boss.
It’s also worth noting that Fitzgerald interviewed for the general manager job in Pittsburgh, but ultimately lost it to Jim Rutherford. Additionally, Pittsburgh has two other assistant general managers in Jason Botterill and Bill Guerin while Fitzgerald is currently the only member of the Devils’ organization with that job title.
The Devils will not have to compensate the Pittsburgh Penguins for this move with a draft pick. That’s because the new system only covers GMs, team presidents, and head coaches, per The Record.
Related: Lamoriello’s departure removes any doubt: Devils are Shero’s team
Alexander Semin’s 2014-15 campaign was a low point in his career, but his newly inked one-year, $1.1 million pack with the Montreal Canadiens offers him a chance to put that behind him.
It’s a modest deal for Semin and not just compared to the five-year, $35 million contract that the Carolina Hurricanes bought out earlier this summer. With the exception of his entry-level contract, he’s never signed an NHL deal with an annual base salary this low, per General Fanager. One could argue that it’s not a surprising sum though after he scored just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests last season.
“Last year I have bad season for me,” Semin said in a conference call following the signing. “No score, no points, I play not well. I try going back to how I can play.”
As for why he didn’t play like he has at his height, he cited the wrist surgery he had over the summer of 2014 as a possible cause. Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, previously suggested that Hurricanes coach Bill Peters “did not understand Sasha’s game” while Hurricanes GM Ron Francis criticized his “compete level.”
Obviously the first two potential explanations are no longer factors as he won’t be working with Peters next season and his wrist surgery is now well behind him. That leaves the motivation theory and even if you subscribe to that, 2015-16 might be an exception.
The fact that he had to take this contract can be seen as a reflection of how far his stock has fallen. He also reiterated during the conference call that he wants to play in the NHL over the KHL.
If things go terribly in Montreal, then he’ll be in an even weaker negotiating position next summer. At this point, it wouldn’t be overly dramatic to say that he’s not only trying to get back to his old top-tier level of play, but also fighting to simply prove he still belongs at this level.
A day after the City of Glendale and the Arizona Coyotes came to terms on an amended arena lease agreement, the City Council has voted unanimously to rescind its cancellation of the management deal and approved the proposed amendment, per the Coyotes’ Twitter feed.
That brings an end to most recent chapter of the rocky story that is the Coyotes’ history in Glendale, but this move hasn’t erased all uncertainty about the franchise’s future.
As opposed to the previous 15-year deal, the amended agreement will only run through 2017, so the question has shifted to what will happen with the Coyotes come the 2017-18 campaign.
In his statement yesterday, Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said, “We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term.” Of course, if you wanted to speculate, you could attempt to read into him saying Arizona rather than Glendale. It might be over-analyzing, but Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was willing to help bring the team back if a resolution couldn’t be reached with the City of Glendale.
Speculation like that is likely to persist until the Coyotes given the short-term nature of the agreement, but at least the immediate dispute is resolved as the Coyotes work towards bringing the team back to the playoffs.
An opportunity for Tod Leiweke has led to a front office shakeup for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The team announced that Leiweke is stepping down from his post as the chief executive officer to become the NFL’s chief operating officer.
Leiweke spent five years with the Lightning, working under owner Jeff Vinik. Lightning president Steve Griggs has been named as his successor while GM Steve Yzerman will still report to Vinik when it comes to any matter that relates to hockey operations.
“Tod has been instrumental in our franchise transformation and I am grateful for all his work and dedication,” said Vinik. “During Tod’s five years with the Lightning, we have set our franchise on a trajectory for excellence with Steve Griggs and an outstanding management team working beside him every step of the way. Steve is ready for the additional responsibilities that come with being CEO, and, as a testament to Tod, we will not miss a beat moving forward.”
Griggs has previously worked for the Minnesota Wild, Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, and the Orlando Magic. Leiweke brought Griggs in to serve as Tampa Bay’s COO and then later as team president. Griggs has been credited with helping grow the business side of the Lightning, including the team’s season ticket base.