Graziano: Lou Lamoriello Begins To Give Islanders Long-Overdue Culture Change

Team Fired GM Snow, Coach Weight Tuesday

Andy Graziano
June 06, 2018 - 11:27 am
Lou Lamoriello

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If there was any doubt whatsoever that Lou Lamoriello was in complete control of hockey operations for the New York Islanders, that was laid to rest Tuesday, as the team's president put his stamp on a beat-up franchise just two weeks after accepting the job.

The team announced that general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight were both relieved of their titles. They, however, will remain with the organization in a still-unknown capacity.

“Garth is a personal friend who I’ve known a long time," Lamoriello said in a conference call with reporters. "We had conversations over the past two weeks since I came on board and decided a culture change was needed. There are no specific roles laid out, but the respect I have for the both of them as men and hockey people, I feel that they can still be valuable, allowing me to pick their brains in certain areas. Everything else will be determined as we move along."

Maybe it was due to several league sources indicating there was a population of prominent hockey agents that would not deal with Snow in contract negotiations, which is why most of them were farmed out to vice president of hockey operations Claude Loiselle. Maybe it was that Snow's relationship with co-owner Jon Ledecky had deteriorated and Ledecky wanted this move made months ago. Instead of moving to button up his roster after injuries to Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk left an already floundering defense in even worse shape, all Snow seemed to have were excuses, not answers.

MORE: Islanders Fans On Twitter Giddy About Garth Snow Firing

Either way, Snow's record of missing the playoffs eight times and winning just one playoff series in his 12 years at the helm speaks for itself. In a results-based business, the results were just not there. So, for now, Lamoriello assumes even more control, adding the general manager title to his nameplate and beginning the search for a new head coach.

“If we had one (head coach) in mind, he would be hired already," Lamoriello said. "The search begins immediately, and personal feelings or relationships I might have with certain people will not be a factor. Different coaches are for different teams."

Lamoriello will get right to work on a roster that is in need of repair. De Haan needs a contract, and now that Snow is out of the picture, he just might get one. Last year, contentious negotiations between the Isles and de Haan led to a one-year agreement just prior to an arbitration hearing.

Lamoriello still needs to find a suitable No. 1 goaltender. And he still needs to convince the captain, John Tavares, that Tuesday's moves will lead to a winning culture from the top of the organization on down.

The new Islanders president said Tavares did not factor into the decision to fire Snow and Weight at all, but if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn. You don’t make moves like this with your cornerstone’s situation hanging in the balance and leave him in the dark. I would bet this was one of the subjects possibly discussed when the two met three weeks ago. As far as this diminishing Tavares’ chances to sign on the dotted line, given he was close to both Snow and Weight, that also seems like rumor mill fodder. At the end of the day, he just wants to win. And these moves show Lamoriello is serious about just that.

With the draft and free agency looming right around the corner, the Islanders now find themselves as the only team in the NHL without a head coach. Lamoriello did say he has met with Snow and the scouting staff regarding the draft and is "comfortable" with their position, holding the 11th and 12th picks on June 22. It remains to be seen whether New York will actually make those two picks, with the news coming out last weekend that there are plenty of teams looking to trade into the first round or add to their current stockpiles.

Dave Tippett? Sheldon Keefe? Does Lamoriello rely on old relationships with someone like Larry Robinson? Does Jacques Lemaire enter the picture and fit somewhere? Maybe Scott Stevens comes in to assume the Greg Cronin role, tutoring young defensemen such as Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Devon Toews? And what about the general manager position? Does Lamoriello keep it? Or does he go outside the organization to bring in Mark Hunter, as some have assumed?

The answers to these questions will become more clear over the next several weeks, as one would have to assume Lamoriello would want a head coach in place for the draft. Assume. That’s a word fans should get used to, since rumors and leaks are something of an afterthought in Lamoriello’s previous lines of work. He hates when things "get out" and takes pride in keeping information close to the vest, announcing it only when he is ready to do so.

It’s impossible to sit back and not be excited and enthused if you are an Islanders fan. The long-needed culture change is here. As the president and now general manager stated Tuesday, "There are many great people here, but it’s time to stabilize things with fresh faces and fresh minds moving forward."

The two luckiest people in the building might just be Snow and Weight, as they were not fired, only relieved of their positions. Where they end up in the organization is anyone’s guess right now, but know one thing: They will no longer have much, if anything, to say about the day-to-day operations of this hockey team.

It’s Lamoriello’s ship. And he is steering the Islanders in a completely new direction. Bon voyage.

Follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyGraz_WFAN