He’s baaaaaack: Leafs pull a stunner, hire Lamoriello as GM (Updated)

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In a surprising move that few saw coming, the Toronto Maple Leafs filled their vacant general manager position by hiring longtime Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.

More, from the club:

Lamoriello has been named the 16th General Manager in the Club’s history. Lamoriello joins the Leafs after previously spending the last 28 years in the New Jersey Devils organization.

On May 4, 2015, Ray Shero was introduced as the Devils’ new General Manager while Lamoriello remained in his role as President of Hockey Operations. He finished as the longest serving General Manager of any one team in the history of the NHL at 28 years (1987-2015).

In conjunction with this announcement, the Devils announced that Lamoriello had stepped down as president, a role he retained after shifting GM duties to Shero.

UPDATE: Despite Lamoriello’s resignation, the Leafs will still be required to compensate New Jersey for the hire, per Sportsnet. According to NorthJersey.com, it’s a third-round pick.

Is it fair to say this hire came out of left field?

Yes. But it’s not hard to see the connection between Lamoriello and the Leafs organization.

Lamoriello was Toronto team president Brendan Shanahan’s first boss upon breaking into the NHL in 1987. In fact, Shanahan referenced Lamoriello this season while suspending Nazem Kadri for behavioral issues; Shanahan said he never forgot getting parked for three games during his rookie season with the Devils, and referenced it while discussing Kadri’s punishment.

A known disciplinarian, Lamoriello’s strict, no-nonsense approach fits with Toronto’s organizational overhaul. At the NHL draft in June, new head coach Mike Babcock explained exactly what that overhaul would look like.

“The number-one characteristic of a Toronto Maple Leaf is a good human being. Period.” Babcock said. “So if you don’t fit that, you’re not going to be here. Anything that’s been going on is going to get cleaned up.

“We’re going to be a fit, fit team. We’re going to be a team that comes to the media everyday, after a win, after a loss, after practice, and owns their own stuff. Period.”

As for the long term ramifications of this big hire — at 72, it’s fair to speculate that Lamoriello might not be long for the Toronto job. He could be in a similar “caretaker” position to the one ex-‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford took in Pittsburgh; Rutherford is mentoring assistant GMs Jason Botterill, Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Gueirn, and it’s likely that Lamoriello will do the same for Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter.

The Leafs have scheduled a press conference with Shanahan and Lamoriello for 2 p.m. ET today. More to follow.