Author: Ryan Dadoun

Lou Lamoriello

Lamoriello thanks Devils fans with full-page newspaper ad


There are some people that are so deeply involved with a team for such an extended period of time, it becomes hard to envision that person working anywhere else. Lou Lamoriello is a prime example of that.

He spent 28 years with the New Jersey Devils — more than half of the franchise’s existence — and was the architect of all three of their Stanley Cup championships. In a stunning move though, he left the Devils’ organization yesterday to become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ new general manager.

While yesterday was dedicated to digesting the immediate aftermath of the move and what it ultimately means to both franchises, on a more personal level, Lou Lamoriello wanted to reach out to the fans he served for nearly three decades. He did so in a full-page ad that was published in The Record.

Here’s what he said:

Dear New Jersey Devils’ Fans:

Since I first joined the New Jersey Devils in 1987 your dedication to the organization motivated me to work my hardest – every day, every week, every year. The nearly three decades I’ve been with the Devils are times I will cherish and never forget.

Together we saw the New Jersey Devils make history. All of the players who were so devoted to winning and New Jersey. All of the employees of the team who shared the same philosophy. The staffs at what was then Continental Arena and the Prudential Center helping to make sure the New Jersey Devils were always a team you would be proud to support.

1995, 2000, 2003 were seasons where we reached the ultimate goal. We all shared a common objective: Excellence. Hearing you cheering for the team on those historic nights remains with me to this day and always will.

I am most appreciative of Dr. John McMullen for bringing me to New Jersey in the first place. His desire to win the Stanley Cup for New Jersey was a goal we all shared and were fortunate to achieve – three times.

Through all the years, you the fans are an unforgettable part of my New Jersey Devils experience and I am grateful for your passion and unwavering support.

I will miss you and New Jersey. Though now a rival, the New Jersey Devils have a bright future. Of that you can be assured. I thank you again for your commitment to what we worked to achieve every year for the last 28 seasons.

With deepest admiration

Lou Lamoriello

Blashill: Expectations for Mantha in ’14-15 were too high

Anthony Mantha

Coach Jeff Blashill is making the leap from AHL Grand Rapids to the Detroit Red Wings, but top-end prospect Anthony Mantha probably won’t be following him in the short-term after, as Red Wings executive Jim Devellano put it, a “very, very, very disappointing” start to his pro career.

Mantha was taken with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and followed that up with 57 goals and 120 points in 57 QMJHL contests in 2013-14. That left Mantha feeling like he could make Detroit’s roster out of training camp. Ultimately though, he recorded 15 goals and 33 points in 62 AHL contests.

“First of all, the expectation level on Anthony was too high, and in part that was his fault,” Blashill told The Detroit News. “When you have a career like that in juniors, the expectations are too high.”

The new Red Wings bench boss noted that untimely injuries sustained in September and then right before the playoffs were part of the problem, but the 20-year-old also has to develop good habits.

“I think Anthony still needs to learn to work as hard as you have to work, shift in and shift out, moving his feet, in order to utilize that skill set at the American league level and the NHL level,” Blashill added. “And it would have been impossible for him to realize he had to do that at the junior level, because he didn’t have to.

“Until you’ve faced a level where you actually have to, you’re never going to make those adjustments.”

Naturally he’s still optimistic about Mantha. Perhaps the 2014-15 campaign will prove to be an eye opening experience for him and if he can enter the season healthy, then that might go a long way towards him bouncing back.

If nothing else, expectations for him in 2015-16 will be tamer.

Bowman urges patience for Panarin, but ‘it’s fun to think of the possibilities’

Artemi Panarin

It’s easy to get excited about a player that can outscore a teammate like Ilya Kovalchuk at the age of 23, but just how good will Artemi Panarin be when he makes the jump from the KHL’s St. Petersburg SKA to Chicago’s organization?

“We’re trying to be patient with the expectations because he’s coming to a new country, learning the language. Everything is new to him,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told CSN Chicago. “I always try to tell people, imagine you go to Russia and you’re expected to just jump in to a new culture and be a superstar right away. There will be a little adjustment there but he has special ability. It’s fun to think of the possibilities there.”

It certainly is fun to think of the possibilities. Patrick Kane hasn’t seen anything more than highlights when it comes to Panarin, but he can’t help but admit that it will be “pretty scary” if the KHL star can live up to expectations. Meanwhile, Panarin’s former SKA teammate, Viktor Tikhonov, who was also signed by Chicago is predicting that “Blackhawks fans are going to absolutely love him.”

Chicago’s decision to dip into the KHL for talent likely came partially out of necessity because its difficult cap situation lends itself to replenishing the team’s depth through less conventional means. The Blackhawks were also active when it came to recruiting undrafted college talent this summer, luring the highly touted Kyle Baun back in March.

The Blackhawks now have a few of new X-Factors that might make an impact in the coming season, but it’s likely that none will be watched more intently than Panarin, even if it’s reasonable to expect there to be an adjustment period.