Lou Lamoriello was judged to have done a good enough job this season to win the Jim Gregory Award as the NHL’s general manager of the year, the league announced on Saturday night.
The Islanders’ president and general manager, known as a master team builder, wanted to thank everyone in the organization.
"It’s very humbling coming from your peers," Lamoriello said of the award, which was voted upon by the NHL’s 31 general managers and a select, nine-person panel of other league executives and media members. "But, really, anytime you have an award in a team atmosphere, it’s really shared with everyone and a part of everyone because it would not happen unless you had the people around you."
Lamoriello garnered 11 of the 40 first-place votes and also received nine second-place votes and four third-place votes for 86 points. The Lightning’s Julien BriseBois was second with 71 points (8-8-7) and the Stars’ Jim Nill finished third with 61 points (8-6-3).
It’s also no secret the only trophy that matters to Lamoriello is the Stanley Cup. He won three with the Devils during his tenure as the organization’s president and general manager from 1987-2015 and he’s trying to lead the Islanders to their first since winning four straight from 1980-83.
The Islanders have reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1993 and will look to even their series against the Lightning in Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
"I think we have to simply continue to do what we have been doing, just focus one game at a time and each one of our players realizing what his role is, accepting it and putting it together," Lamoriello said. "Allowing the end result to take care of itself and not looking beyond that."
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to halt its regular season on March 12 and the postseason has been played in quarantined bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.
Lamoriello said it was fair to wonder before play resumed on Aug. 1 what kind of product would be on the ice without fans in the neutral-site arenas.
He has been impressed, calling it "great hockey."
"I don’t look at it as anything other than it beats the alternative of not playing hockey," Lamoriello said. "The NHL and the Players’ Association have done a tremendous job of joining together and coming up with the best solution to get the playoffs underway. It’s been some seven weeks now and I can tell you my experience, day in and day out, I don’t know what they could have done better. The games have been tremendous. The living quarters are great. I don’t think there’s anything to complain about. Certainly, it’s a unique experience and hopefully it’s one that will happen only once."
Lamoriello made two crucial deals before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to solidify the Islanders’ roster. First, he acquired defenseman Andy Greene from the Devils. Then, he acquired center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Senators and promptly signed him to a six-year, $30 million extension.
"They’ve done everything we’ve hoped for them to do, and probably more," Lamoriello said. "Both of them just came into the organization like they’ve been here before. Their acceptance has just been so smooth I have a difficult time putting it into words. It’s probably the smoothest transactions that I’ve every had bringing two players in at this time of the year."
Lamoriello also had high praise for the work done by coach Barry Trotz.
The Islanders hired Lamoriello on May 22, 2018 after he spent three seasons as the Maple Leafs general manager. He hired Trotz the next month, shortly after he had led the Capitals to the Cup.
"I think that Barry’s past and present is something which has been extremely consistent in his career," Lamoriello said. "He’s very level-headed, very patient. That’s transmitted throughout our team. He’s very honest, very direct and it’s really been a pleasure and an honor for me to work with him the last couple of years."