Lou Lamoriello’s sit down with Paul Hendrick — Part 1


Paul Hendrick: Injuries and trades have provided opportunities for youngsters in the organization. Do you and the rest of your staff have a better idea of where this club is in terms of — I hate to use the term “rebuild” — where it’s going progressively?

Lou Lamoriello: I like to think so. I think whatever has happened this year, there have been a lot of positives that have come out of it. Like you said, the opportunities that the younger players have been given because of transactions that have taken place — they’ve been put in situations that they might not have been put in if such didn’t happen. They’ve been given to see exactly what the NHL is like. They know what they have to do this summer; how much they need to improve. There’s a lot to be done, but it’s going in the right direction.

Hendrick: The organization traded its captain back on February 9th. Is there any rush to replace Dion as the group moves forward?

Lamoriello: No, I think a lot will transpire hopefully over the summer. Give us an opportunity — that is Mike, Brendan and myself — to really look and see who and if there is an individual for that position, but that right now is not at the top of the list.

Hendrick: Dion’s departure — did it allow players like Jake and Morgan to graduate? I know some nights it’s been difficult, but for the most part have they been able to progress in his absence?

Lamoriello: There’s no question. I think that, first of all, Dion did a tremendous job as a captain. I had no knowledge of what’s transpired in the past, but from what I saw while he was here, I couldn’t personally ask for more in what he did. Once he did leave, certainly as you mentioned, other players have come forward. I think it’s been a smooth transition. Different people have come at different times, but the veterans who are here have provided us with some leadership.

Hendrick: How confident are you in your scouting system given your success last draft, especially beyond the first round and what they were able to acquire in rounds 2 and up?

Lamoriello: I’ve said repeatedly that my respect for Mark Hunter, even prior to coming here and what he’s done with London and the type of players he’s produced in the NHL, it’s known throughout the league. Working with him over the last several months and watching his determination and how much time he spends, and how detailed he is, I have total confidence that what transpired last year will continue throughout this draft.

Hendrick: Your success and experience with Brendan Shanahan back in New Jersey 30 years ago — will you use any of that as a template with Mitch Marner in the event that young Mitch has a really good camp in September?

Lamoriello: We’ll have to see when that time comes about. There’s an old expression, “when time is on your side, you try to use it.” Mitch is going to determine his fate on what he does throughout the summer to put himself into a position given an opportunity when September comes. And then a decision will be made.

Hendrick: We knew the Marlies were going to be competitive this year. 50-plus wins, however, is that a pleasant surprise for this organization?

Lamoriello: I don’t know if it’s a pleasant surprise because of talents that we do have, but what I’m really impressed with is the job that Sheldon Keefe has done along with Kyle Dubas and the whole staff there, with reference to no matter how many callups we’ve had. No matter how many injuries we’ve had, and no matter who is in the lineup — be it an ECHL player or an ATO signing — it seems they’ve never wavered. They’ve consistently found a way to win. They’re a team and they respect each other. I compliment them. It’s going to be really exciting to watch. I think Maple Leafs fans should feel really good about the Marlies.

Hendrick: When you look back at the decision to leave Providence College after a couple of decades, what enticed you to go to New Jersey and realize what you had to do and all the heavy lifting that went with it?

Lamoriello: Very similar to here, I think. A challenge, and also people. I think, when I went to New Jersey, it was the owner John McMullen. And then, coming here, certainly the individual person was Brendan Shanahan and certainly Larry Tanenbaum, who I knew for quite a while being on the executive committee with him, and also Mike Babcock. Those individuals were the people that really made it so that it was a decision. As tough as it might have been at the time, certainly they’ve made it easy at the time and throughout the whole year. But Brendan was the key person.