FROM THE DESK OF
Dear New Jersey Devils' Fans:
Since I first joined the New Jersey Devils in 1987 your dedication to the organization motivated me to work my hardest – every day, every week, every year. The nearly three decades I've been with the Devils are times I will cherish and never forget.
Together we saw the New Jersey Devils make history. All of the players who were so devoted to winning and New Jersey. All of the employees of the team who shared the same philosophy. The staffs at what was then Continental Arena and the Prudential Center helping to make sure the New Jersey Devils were always a team you would be proud to support.
1995, 2000, 2003 were seasons where we reached the ultimate goal. We all shared a common objective: Excellence. Hearing you cheering for the team on those historic nights remains with me to this day and always will.
I am most appreciative of Dr. John McMullen for bringing me to New Jersey in the first place. His desire to win the Stanley Cup for New Jersey was a goal we all shared and were fortunate to achieve – three times.
Through all the years, you the fans are an unforgettable part of my New Jersey Devils experience and I am grateful for your passion and unwavering support.
I will miss you and New Jersey. Though now a rival, the New Jersey Devils have a bright future. Of that you can be assured. I thank you again for your commitment to what we worked to achieve every year for the last 28 seasons.
With deepest admiration,
I got to be honest with you. I abruptly woke up to my phone incessantly vibrating yesterday morning. Little did I know it would be to find out that Lou Lamoriello was not only stepping down as Devils President, but also taking the General Manager job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I didn't really have time to absorb it. I barely had taken a few sips of my morning coffee before I had already published a blog reflecting my feelings on the matter. As all shocking news does, it took some time to really set in. It took some time to go from being a nightmare to becoming a reality. I really didn't understand how painful it would be to see Lou Lamoriello holding up a fucking Maple Leafs jersey until I saw that very thing mere hours later. While it's become common place to see players that are synonymous with certain franchises move on to other teams after long periods of time, Lou Lamoriello leaving just feels so much more heartbreaking than that. It sucked to watch Marty Brodeur play in a St. Louis Blues sweater. It was gut wrenching to hear that Scott Stevens wouldn't be brought back to the coaching staff. All those things are trivial in comparison to the architect of the New Jersey Devils moving on after three wildly successful decades in the organization. All the players and coaches that have come through the the doors of Continental Airlines Arena, and more recently The Prudential Center, are part of Devils history, but Lou Lamoriello created Devils history.
It's been awhile since I have had to deal with the loss of a loved one (knock on wood), so I am not exactly well versed on the 5 stages of grief. I can say without a doubt I am in the stage where you blame anyone and everyone associated with your grief. I keep playing games of 'what if'. I want to blame James VanderBeek. What if he wasn't such a goddamn asshole with his money? I want to blame the new owners, Harris and Blitzer. What if they found a less abrupt way to transition this team into a new era management wise? I want to blame Ryan Clowe for having the softest brain of all time. I want to blame Brian Rolston, Michael Ryder, and Damien Brunner for burdening this franchise financially. What if they came anywhere close to performing up to their contracts? I want to blame Zach Parise for leaving just a few months after captaining his team to a Stanley Cup Final. I want to blame Ilya "The Mercenary" Kovalchuk for demanding an egregious amount of money over an egregious amount of years before bolting overseas for an early 'retirement'. What if the core of the 2012 team didn't completely dissipate over the course of 12 months? I want to blame Lou. What if he didn't spend so frivolously on average players in hopes of remaining a contender? So many questions. So little answers.
At the end of the day, the result is the same. The Devils just underwent a lifetime of change over the course of one offseason. It's exciting, it's nerve-racking, but above all, it is depressing. No matter where the franchise goes from here it will always be predicated on the one man that just walked out the door. Reading this letter from Lou, which was as classy as it gets, nearly brought a tear to my eye. Whether that was a tear of happiness or sadness I am not really sure. I want to write a reply letter, because anyone associated with this team, or this state, knows that Lou is the one that deserves the thanking. I don't think anyone is ever fully ready to move on. I probably would have only been fully satisfied if Lamoriello had passed away in a desk chair while resigning Scott Gomez to a 3 year contract that would take him to the ripe age of 50. That would have felt like the right way to go out. Alas, sports, much like life, aren't perfect. I just never thought I would be using such a desperate cliche to make myself feel better when talking about Lou Lamoriello. At least I will be prepared if I ever have to write a eulogy.