LISTEN UP, LOU: IT'S TIME TO GIVE DEVS A NEW GM
By MARK EVERSON
May 7, 2007 -- THE Devils' GM is finally taking a spanking from the usual genuflectors, and rightly so, for having the gall and ego to fire coach Claude Julien, then failing to take a second-round team any further than Julien probably would have.
The issue again is whether these are the Devils or the New Jersey Lous - whether this Team Concept Lou Lamoriello preaches so often and genuinely actually applies to him, too.
Their identity was once Jacques Lemaire and his trap, but it has since become that of Lamoriello, the CEO/president/GM/interim coach/chef/cook/bottle washer. Lamoriello insists he made the Julien decision as a matter of duty. On a team no one man should have that much duty, power, or independence.
The trouble with Lou is that he has been so good for so long, so right so often, and kept his team competitive so long past its expiration date that people believe he is nearly infallible, that past performance is an indication of future returns. He operates as if he nearly believes it, too.
What he has done is very, very difficult: refusing to "rebuild," instead retooling as he went, remaining competitive and often contending. But the long-predicted price has come due, and not even his glare behind the bench made any difference as the Devils fell in five to the Senators in the second round Saturday - the third straight season they didn't win more than one round.
The Golden Era of the Devils was largely built on three of his early actions: His refusal to accept Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind'Amour from the Blues for their signing of Brendan Shanahan, and winning his case that Scott Stevens was the appropriate compensation; his trade of Tom Kurvers for the Toronto pick that turned into Scott Niedermayer; and his down-drafting of Martin Brodeur.