Lou Lamoriello has proven through the years to be one of the NHL's savviest general managers, guiding the New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cups.
That magic touch appears to have followed Lamoriello behind the bench, where the Devils have climbed into the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
United Center, beating the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout. Viktor Kozlov beat Adam Munro in the fourth shootout round for the winner. Tyler Arnason, who had a goal and an assist in the game, was stopped by Martin Brodeur to clinch the Devils' victory.
Despite the winning streak, Lamoriello insists he is just a short-timer behind the bench. The search continues for a permanent replacement for Larry Robinson, who resigned Dec. 19.
"It doesn't matter who is there, when the team is playing well, they're playing well," Lamoriello insisted Sunday. "And we have been."
Indeed, the Devils have won three Cups since the 1994-95 season, each under a different coach.
Jacques Lemaire won the first in 1995, Robinson took over from Robbie Ftorek late in the 1999-2000 season, won that year and took the Devils to the finals the next season, and Pat Burns won in 2002-03.
That's a testament to the team Lamoriello not only has put together but has managed to keep together with core veterans such as Brodeur, Sergei Brylin, Patrik Elias, Brian Rafalski, Scott Gomez and Jamie Langenbrunner.
"It's 'Devils hockey,' and that starts with the guys who have been here," Langenbrunner said. "It gets passed down from year to year, and guys buy into it and how we need to play, and it has paid dividends."
Lamoriello was a very successful coach at Providence College for 15 seasons, but he had coached just one NHL game until he replaced Robinson for the Dec. 20 game against the New York Rangers.
That was Game 5 of the 1988 Wales Conference finals when then-coach Jim Schoenfield was suspended for uttering the memorable "Have another doughnut, you fat pig!" to referee Don Koharski.
Lamoriello went into his latest coaching stint with a simple plan.
"I try not to think," Lamoriello said. "It was something that I felt was the right thing for the right reasons, and as soon as we can get someone we feel is the right person, we'll do it."
Until Lamoriello added the coaching duties to his already heavy portfolio of chief executive officer, president and general manager of the Devils, only Darryl Sutter of Calgary was both GM and coach.
"I have to put the time in that's necessary and have to find a way to deal with it," Lamoriello said. "I just don't think about it. It has to be done."
Langenbrunner is sure whomever Lamoriello names as coach will be the right choice.
"Nine times out of 10 he makes the right decision," Langenbrunner said. "All of us that have been here for a while trust he'll make the right choice."
It's the Devils'and Lamoriello'sway. It's tough to argue with the results.
Devils 3, Blackhawks 2
Gotta give Devils their due
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