Lou Lamoriello moved quickly to shake up the New York Islanders by firing coach Doug Weight and general manager Garth Snow and naming himself the team’s new GM just two weeks after taking over as president of hockey operations.
Lamoriello made the moves Tuesday that begin to reshape the organization in his image, two weeks to the day ownership said he’d have “full authority over all hockey matters.” Lamoriello left the Toronto Maple Leafs to run the Islanders and will begin the search for a new coach immediately.
“It’s my opinion that at this point there’s a culture change that’s needed and there’s new voices needed in different areas and because of that, the changes (were) made,” Lamoriello said on a conference call with reporters. “There’s been a lot of changes for different reasons, and right now is just trying to stabilize anything, start off with a fresh face, start off with a fresh mind, a fresh coach and just go forward.”
The end of Snow’s tenure seemed inevitable after owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin brought in Lamoriello to oversee the hockey operations department. Snow was previous owner Charles Wang’s hire.
The Islanders missed the playoffs eight times in Snow’s 12 years as general manager, including the past two seasons. He has four years left on the contract he signed when Wang still owned the team.
“Both Garth, who is a personal friend and one who I’ve known for a long time and also Dougie who played for me in ‘96 and ‘98, I have tremendous respect for,” Lamoriello said.
This latest front-office development comes with the Islanders at a crossroads this summer. The face of the franchise, John Tavares, can become a free agent July 1. The team took one step toward making Tavares feel comfortable about re-signing by planning a permanent home at Belmont Park after spending the last three seasons playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but the direction of the organization still threatens to push the superstar centre to leave.
Lamoriello said Tavares’ situation “certainly has not and did not enter into any of the decisions that are made.”
Tavares, who would be the top free agent on the market, had a good relationship with Weight, who was his teammate for two seasons and assistant coach and GM from 2011 until he replaced Jack Capuano as head coach in January 2017. Weight just finished his first full season as Islanders coach.
The Islanders now have the only coaching vacancy in the NHL. Asked what kind of coach he’d like to hire, Lamoriello essentially only alluded to the fact that Weight was not the guy he wants behind the bench.
“Not every coach is for every team and not every team is for every coach,” Lamoriello said. “If we had that coach, he would be in place.”
In a statement, Lamoriello thanked Snow and Weight and the team said they would remain with the organization. Specific roles and responsibilities for them have yet to be determined, though Lamoriello said, “I feel they can be valuable in me picking their brain, asking their opinion in certain areas.”