The NHL’s longest-serving GM is done.
Lou Lamoriello, who’s been in charge in New Jersey since 1987, has relinquished his title as general manager to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero.
“This is my decision with 100 percent support of ownership,” Lamoriello said on a conference call, adding that he would retain his role as president of hockey operations. “Ray is well-respected throughout the hockey industry and knows what it takes to win.
“His 22 seasons of NHL front-office experience will be beneficial to the New Jersey Devils organization. I look forward to working alongside Ray.”
Lamoriello, 72, steps away from his GM role after winning three Stanley Cups and leading the Devils to the playoffs all but three times between 1988 and 2012. The club has failed to make the postseason in each of the last three seasons, however, and Lamoriello has faced increasing criticism following several failed free agent acquisitions.
“Teams and personnel dictate changes,” Lamoriello said. “Ray might do things just a little different than I do.”
Shero, 52, has been out of work since being fired by Pittsburgh last summer. During his time with the Penguins, Shero captured one Stanley Cup (in 2009) in eight years on the job. He will immediately be tasked with hiring the club’s next head coach, as the Devils finished last season with Adam Oates and Scott Stevens behind the bench.
With this hire, Shero falls out of contention with the vacant Boston Bruins GM gig, which he was rumored to be shortlisted for.
“It’s a great situation for me,” Shero said during Wednesday’s call. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Shero has plenty of work ahead of him. Aside from the coaching search, he holds the sixth overall pick at this June’s draft, as well as No. 36 and 41 (the latter acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade with Florida.) Shero will also need to work on new contracts for RFAs Stefan Matteau, Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas, and decide what he wants to do with veteran UFAs (Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Steve Bernier, Jordin Tootoo, Scott Gomez, Bryce Salvador, Peter Harrold and Mark Fraser.)
Give the names on that list and the regime change from Lamoriello to Shero, the Devils could be a very different-looking team in 2015-16.
Note: Lamoriello went out of his way to thank Penguins CEO David Morehouse and the entire organization for their cooperation in the Shero hiring process, but noted there would be no compensation going to Pittsburgh. This offseasons is the first of the NHL’s re-instituted policy to award teams compensatory draft picks should their executives or coaches be hired by other teams.