Big moves like this are a rarity for the New York Islanders, which makes the reported hiring of Hall-of-Fame Lou Lamoriello to a front-office position with the team an enormous acquisition for the small-market organization.
The Islanders announced on Tuesday morning that Lamoriello's official role with the Islanders will be president of hockey operations. There was initial speculation that he could also take over as general manager, but it appears that role will remain with Garth Snow for now until his future with the organization is decided.
"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,” Islanders managing partner Scott Malkin said.
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Snow has held the position in New York for the past 12 seasons with minimal success, garnering just one playoff series win in the process. It's upped the Islanders total to just three series victories since 1993.
He's had a difficult time developing the team into serious contenders despite drafting the franchise's cornerstone, All-Star and captain John Tavares first overall in 2009. His job came under serious fire after this season when he remained quiet at the NHL trade deadline in late February despite the team being just two points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while possessing the worst defense in the league.
Instead of finding upgrades at the position, Snow did nothing of note and the Islanders subsequently plummeted to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, missing the playoffs for a second-straight year.
It couldn't have come at a worse time considering Tavares' contract expired at the end of the 2017-18 campaign where he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. While the Islanders secured a new, state-of-the-art, hockey-first arena in Elmont, NY, closer to Tavares' home on Long Island, the fact that Snow has been unable to build a contender around his best player has made the past six months nervy for the Islanders faithful.
Lamoriello though brings legitimacy to the Islanders front office and a seasoned winner that can help guide Snow. The 75-year-old built the New Jersey Devils from a franchise that Wayne Gretzky once described as a "Mickey Mouse organization" to a force, winning three Stanley Cups in 28 seasons as general manager.
He then joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, a franchise that hadn't made the playoffs in a decade before he arrived, in 2015 where he built a young, dynamic roster that recorded a franchise record 105 points this year.
It sounds as though Lamoriello has known that he's been heading to the Islanders for some time now. French site Hockey30 reported that Lamoriello met with Tavares last week in what can only be described as a move to lay the groundwork for a long-term contract that would secure the 27-year-old in New York for the rest of his NHL career.
That's the kind of clout Lamoriello will bring to the Islanders front office, which can only mean good things for a franchise that hasn't come close to a Stanley Cup since the Reagan administration.