In case you missed last night’s Saturday Headlines segment on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast during the second intermission of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ outdoor game against the Washington Capitals last night, Sportsnet insider Chris Johnston dropped a bomb on Leafs fans when he reported that the team appears to be phasing out general manager Lou Lamoriello.
“There have been whispers out there that going back to last summer, there was a meeting where it was stated out loud in a group setting that this would be Lou Lamoriello's last season as the Leafs' general manager,” reported Johnston.
It’s been widely speculated that Lamoriello is playing out the final year of his contract before determining what his future holds. But, Johnston’s Sporsnet colleague Elliotte Friedman isn’t so sure that Lamoriello is done with the Leafs entirely.
"Technically, I don't think Lou Lamoriello is in the last year of his contract," said Friedman. "There is term. The question is, ‘Is the term as general manager, or is there another role he will take in the organization?’, Technically I don't think he's in the last year of his deal."
So, if he’s not going to be the team’s GM… what other role is there for a 30+ year NHL executive if not at the top? He certainly won’t be getting Leafs president Brendan Shanahan’s position anytime soon… so what’s left?
"I wouldn't be surprised if he's in an advisory role for a couple more years," Friedman says.
Interesting… so does that mean that one of the Leafs current assistant GMs Mark Hunter or Kyle Dubas will ascend to the full-time GM position? Or, will the Leafs go outside the organization for help once again? It’s easy to forget, but the team’s hiring of Lamoriello was an absolute shock when it transpired in 2015. Lamoriello unexpectedly stepped down from his position with the New Jersey Devils after 27 years to accept a position with the Leafs. Three years later the Leafs are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and Lamoriello deserves much of the credit. If he goes, how do the Leafs fare without him? We may find out sooner rather than later.