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Lou Lamoriello writes letter to Islanders fans

Islanders president and GM Lou Lamoriello walks the

Islanders president and GM Lou Lamoriello walks the red carpet prior to the 2019 Induction Ceremony at the Hockey Hall Of Fame on Nov. 18, 2019 in Toronto. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

Lou Lamoriello is on to 2020-21.

The Islanders president and general manager released an open letter to the fans via the team’s website on Friday, assuring them that preparations for next season are underway to build upon the "high standards" set with their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals since 1993.

Lamoriello, who won three Stanley Cups during his tenure as the Devils’ boss from 1987-2015 and was also the Maple Leafs GM from 2015-18, completed his second season running the Islanders when they were eliminated in six games by the Lightning.

The Islanders were swept in the second round by the Hurricanes in 2019 after sweeping the Penguins in the first round.

"This past season was another step in the right direction," Lamoriello wrote. "High standards have been set for the New York Islanders and we will continue to work at making sure they are met each and every day.

"Thank you again for your support and passion. Be assured, preparation for the 2020-21 season has begun."  

It figures to be a busy and unpredictable offseason, not just for the Islanders but for every NHL franchise. The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the regular season to end on March 12 and the postseason – played in bubbles without fans in Toronto and Edmonton – to start on Aug. 1, means the salary cap will remain flat at $81.5 million for at least the 2020-21 season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently the start of next season could "slip into January" and that it could begin without fans in the arenas.

Friday marked the beginning of the NHL buyout period. The NHL Draft will be Oct. 6-7, though the Islanders do not have a first- or second-round pick. Free agency opens on Oct. 9.

The Islanders have approximately $72.6 million allocated already for next season and need to re-sign key restricted free agents Mathew Barzal and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews. Key fourth-liner Matt Martin and defenseman Andy Greene are among the team’s unrestricted free agents.

Lamoriello began his open letter thanking, on behalf of the organization, the fans for their "unwavering support during this unprecedented season."

"The 2019-20 hockey season was a long, however most gratifying journey," Lamoriello wrote. "We began with training camp in September, the ground-breaking press conference at Belmont Park [UBS Arena, slated to open for the 2021-22 season] and culminated this past week with so many of you welcoming the team home from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The highs and lows of this past season extended behind the ice. Everyone worked through their own personal struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. To all our front-line heroes and essential workers, you are the true reason we were able to return to play hockey."  

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