The Players' Tribune
Lou Lamoriello: Thank you for pulling me into your office when I was an out-of-shape 20-year-old kid at his second New Jersey Devils training camp and saying, “If you ever embarrass this organization again by coming in overweight, you will never pull on a Devils sweater.” That was just the ass-kicking that I needed, and the tone you set for the Devils organization is why it is one of the most respected in hockey.
Well, nothing we didn't know here. During his time as General Manager of the Devils Lou Lamoriello was loyal, nearly to a fault, but he was also as no nonsense as they come. You conduct yourself appropriately on and off the ice and Lou will do his best to do what's best for you. If not, you can earn your paycheck elsewhere. Lou isn't one of the most respected GM's in professional sports by accident. He ran a tight ship, but he ran it the right way. That's why he is a legend and was inducted into the Hall Of Fame into the 'builder's category'. You can't be a successful builder if you don't pay close attention to every detail of the foundation.
Scott Stevens: Thank you for being the most professional player I’ve ever witnessed. I still can’t believe you jumped in and fought Eric Lindros for me in a freaking preseason game my rookie year. I just wanted to prove to you that I had your back. When I was traded to Montreal in 2000, it was a complete shock. I will never forget that you came to my hotel room and sat and bullshitted with me for hours until I had to leave for my flight out. You are the definition of what a captain should be.
That's Scott Stevens for you. Consummate pro. That's why he's the best captain that has ever lived (not biased at all obviously). He couldn't turn it off. Preseason be damned. When he was on the ice he was the most passionate, hardest working, ruthless player out there. For all the time he spent leading by example and sticking up for his teammates on the ice, he did just as much leading behind closed doors. Players don't forget those kinds of things.
Jacques Lemaire: Thanks for being the best coach I ever played for, and for developing a system that was so simple and brutally effective. 29 teams fucking hated the trap. But we won a lot of hockey games with it, and we didn’t have to go over it 100 times a day on the whiteboard. It was always black and white with you, which is the way it should be.
I won't go to far into the trap debate. Long story short. Jacques Lemaire is a genius. A genius that instituted a strategy that stifled his opponents defensively, while allowing his team to remain in the top half of the league offensively. He gets crucified far too often for his style of play, but I guess I can't blame him. Those that can't replicate success, hate success. Saying the Devils or Jacques Lemaire 'ruined the sport' is like calling the San Antonio Spurs old and slow, or saying the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were boring. Funny how it's always the losers that repeat that rhetoric.
Ken Daneyko: What kind of guy gets called into the GM’s office and is told he’s being sent to down to the minors and replies, “No … No, I’m not.” Then goes out for practice and convinces the brass to send somebody else down instead. You’re a legend, King.
You don't last 20 years in the NHL with limited talent unless you are a lunatic that is willing to give it his all. A defensive defenseman working his way onto the team hours after refusing to be sent down is as crazy as they come. That's why he has 3 Stanley Cups. That's why he has his jersey hanging from the rafters. That's why he's the King.
There has been a few of these articles written on 'The Players' Tribune' now, and one thing remains constant. All articles written by former Devils speak glowingly of the organization. Sheldon Souray and Scott Gomez may have had their issues with the franchise. However, at the end of the day, when they reflect back on their career, they realize that is where they learned to be a professional. That's where they learned how things are done the right way. That's where they learned how to win. Let's hope it remains the same under Shero.
P.S. We'll never forget the clapper, Sheldon. Enjoy retirement.