The Islanders made it official on Tuesday morning by naming veteran NHL executive Lou Lamoriello president of hockey operations and announcing he will have "full authority over all hockey matters with the organization."
Lamoriello, speaking on a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon, said he had “no pre-conceived notions,” when asked about the potential fate of current Islanders general manager Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight.
Lamoriello was the Maple Leafs general manager the past three seasons and guided the Devils to Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
“We are grateful to Larry Tanenbaum and the Toronto Maple Leafs for their courtesy in allowing this move,” Islanders managing partner Scott Malkin said in a statement. “We are committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization as we pursue our program to compete at the highest level.”
“First of all, I was impressed with the conversation I had with Scott Malkin, his vision, his commitment, his support to the Islanders,” Lamoriello said. “I also look at it as a challenge to bring the Islanders back to where they were.”
The Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 but have won just eight playoff series since then.
Snow has been the GM since July 18, 2006, but the Islanders have made the playoffs just four times in his tenure, winning one playoff series. This past season marked the second straight year they’ve missed the postseason.
Until Lamoriello’s hiring, Snow was also the Islanders president.
Reports on Monday indicated Lamoriello, acting on behalf of the Islanders, had already reached out to impending unrestricted free agent John Tavares, whose re-signing is the organization’s top offseason priority among player decisions.
“Don’t anyone interpret this as a confirmation or denial,” Lamoriello said. “Whether it’s contracts, or personally, or whether it’s coach, I will never comment on it. Never have and won’t.
“Everyone in the NHL knows John Tavares is one of the elite players,” Lamoriello added. “He’s a gentleman on and off the ice. He’s a quality individual as well as a quality player.”
Hired first as the Devils president in 1987 and, shortly after that, adding the general manager’s duties, Lamoriello built a disciplined organization that became a perennial contender.
He left the Devils on July 23, 2015, a little more than two months after ceding his GM role to Ray Shero and joined the Maple Leafs under president Brendan Shanahan and with coach Mike Babcock already hired away from the Red Wings.
Aided by selecting generational talent Auston Matthews first overall in the 2016 draft, the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in each of Lamoriello’s last two seasons as GM, but did not win a round.
Still, the Maple Leafs were 49-26-7 this past season, setting a franchise record with 105 points.
But Shanahan removed Lamoriello as GM on April 30 and put him in an advisory role in Toronto, promoting 32-year-old Kyle Dubas from assistant GM on May 11. The speculation was immediate that Lamoriello could be a candidate to join the Islanders.
Lamoriello’s son, Chris, has been an assistant GM under Snow since August 2016.
Lou Lamoriello said the Islanders first requested permission to speak to him during the Maple Leafs’ playoff run. Toronto lost in the first round to the Bruins in seven games, but Lamoriello put off the meeting immediately after elimination, saying it was “too close to speak.”
Lamoriello finally met with Malkin last week and “the results are we’re speaking today.”