Work in Sports
ATLANTIC DIVISION |
1 New Jersey Devils
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule | Roster
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 4
By Kostya Kennedy
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has been called many things by his players: shrewd, stubborn, smart, stingy, as well as a register of unprintable nouns. Lamoriello's unyielding management style, which includes a tendency to banish players who irk him to such outposts as Edmonton, has become the Devils' defining characteristic. If New Jersey fans have any concern about the future of their team, it is that YankeeNets, the corporate consortium that bought the Devils from John McMullen in August, might mess with Lamoriello's M.O. Because the most accurate word to describe Lamoriello is this: winner.
Before New Jersey won the Cup last year, there were still detractors who slighted Lamoriello's résumé. The Devils' previous Cup win had been viewed by some as fluky: It came in lockout-shortened 1995 when the club rose from fifth place in the East.
Last season, however, was the real thing. The run, sustained by players such as nifty forward Patrik Elias, bruising defenseman Scott Stevens and composed goalie Martin Brodeur, ultimately came down to Lamoriello. "Say what you want, Lou's got guts and he's amazing at what he does," says veteran defenseman Ken Daneyko.
One of the gutsy things he did last year was fire high-strung coach Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the regular season and elevate amiable assistant Larry Robinson. The move, shocking to outsiders, sent waves of calm through the Devils' dressing room. No one benefited more than right wing Alexander Mogilny, whom Lamoriello had recently acquired from the Canucks. After Mogilny, a talented sniper with a fragile psyche, snapped a slump with a crucial third-period goal against the Flyers in Game 6 of the conference finals, Robinson put his arms around him on the bench.
Most of the Devils embrace Lamoriello's team-first philosophy, and the club's extraordinary depth assures that they will again be a Cup contender even though they opened the season without All-Star defenseman Scott Niedermayer and center Jason Arnott, who were battling Lamoriello over contracts. Said Niedermayer a few days before the opener, "He's tough, and he likes to do things his way."
Devils fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Issue date: October 16, 2000
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