On Thursday, longtime New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who had stepped down in May but remained as team president, shockingly left the organization he helped build to become the general manager of the Toronto Maple. Lamoriello had been with the Devils since 1987, five years after they moved to New Jersey. The Devils’ press release stated that Lamoriello had left “to persue other interests.” The Devils will receive a third-round draft pick from the Maple Leafs as compensation.

Under Lamoriello, the Devils made the playoffs all but three times between 1988 and 2012, including 13 berths in a row from 1997 to 2010, and finished with a winning record every season from 1992–93 to 2009–10. They won the Atlantic Division regular season title nine times, went to the Stanley Cup Finals five times, and won three times in 1994–95, 1999–00 and 2002–03. Lamoriello recently stepped aside as the Devils’ longtime general manager to make way for his successor, Ray Shero, whom the team hired in May.

For the Maple Leafs, the hiring of Lamoriello comes after an exhaustive search for a new GM, with a three-man team of assistant general manager Kyle Dubas, director of player personnel Mark Hunter and salary-cap specialist Brandon Pridham all weighing in on the draft, the hiring of new head coach Mike Babcock and the trading of star Phil Kessel after another non-playoff season, with only one appearance since the 2003-2004 season. Team president Brendon Shanahan, Lamoriello’s first draft pick as Devils’ GM and who helped bring his old coach from Detroit (Babcock), started courting him weeks ago behind the scenes, and now hopes he can help build the Maple Leafs into a successful franchise again.

It will be a different job for him then in New Jersey. While he had total autonomy for years and only recently had to relinquish it, in Toronto it will be Shanahan’s show and Lamoriello simply executing his plan, and it will be more of a team effort with Dubas, Pridham and Hunter all still in the front office. But for a franchise that has had so much uncertainty and failure in recent years, hiring Lamoriello will bring some much-needed stability and solid direction to a team that sorely needs it.

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