TORONTO — Lou Lamoriello will be moving from general manager to a senior adviser role with the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the two sides had always planned. What remained unclear Monday is who might replace Lamoriello as GM.
Team president Brendan Shanahan said he plans to focus all of his attention on finding Lamoriello’s replacement but doesn’t have a timeline in place for filling the position.
"I haven’t begun that process and that’s why nobody has been named," Shanahan said on a conference call after the team announced that Lamoriello would not be back as GM. "My focus was on Lou and making a decision, taking a little bit of time right after the season ended to really reflect on that. So I’m just handling one thing at a time."
Lamoriello joined the Maple Leafs in 2015 and agreed to spend seven years with the team: three as GM and four as a senior adviser.
When he first arrived, Toronto was in rebuilding mode.
Lamoriello helped guide the Maple Leafs back to the post-season over the last two years, although Toronto couldn’t get out of the first round either time. The latest early exit came last week with a seven-game loss to the Boston Bruins.
The 75-year-old said he is most proud of the team’s steady rise up the standings over his three-year run as GM. Now he’s ready for the new challenge of serving as a senior adviser.
"It’s an unknown," Lamoriello said. "I’ve never been in a situation like that. So like everything else in life, you learn as you go and make the best of it."
With young forwards like Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner anchoring the squad, the Maple Leafs finished with a 49-26-7 record this season. The 105-point total was good for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Lamoriello declined to discuss his future plans during the team’s end-of-season availability last Friday. But he confirmed Monday that he was looking forward to continue his work in the Maple Leafs’ front office.
"My responsibility is right here with the Toronto Maple Leafs," he said. "I made an agreement and a decision three years ago and it is my intent to honour that."
Lamoriello spent 27 seasons as Devils GM before stepping down from that position in May 2015. He won the Stanley Cup three times as a GM in New Jersey.
"After spending one year here in Toronto and making some of the assessments that I did make, when Lou became available, I just thought he was the perfect fit," Shanahan said. "He’s done this before, he’s built, he’s laid foundations. He has experience and it was just something that we really needed at the time."
Lamoriello, a Hockey Hall of Famer, also served as GM of the American team that won the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. He returned to that post with USA Hockey for the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
As for potential in-house replacements, assistant GM’s Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas could fit the bill. There are several candidates around the hockey world who may be considered too.
Shanahan did not provide details on his search, preferring to keep the focus on Lamoriello and what he has done for the franchise.
"Lou’s contributions to the Leafs were vital," he said. "We were an organization that was looking to build the cultural foundations that he laid, the expertise and the mentorship that he has provided. As I’ve said before, I have the utmost respect for Lou and he’s earned that throughout the hockey world."