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On April, 30, 1987, Lou Lamoriello was named the third general manager in New Jersey Devils history. Just over 28 years later, they have a fourth. In the span between Lamoriello taking over the Devils and relinquishing his job to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, New Jersey has experienced (in particular order): - Three Stanley Cups, won in the span of eight seasons. - Five conference championships. - Nine division titles. - Three major work stoppages. - Four ownership groups. - Moving to a new arena. - The franchise-shifting thievery of Scott Stevens from the St. Louis Blues, as compensation for Brendan Shanahan. - The drafting of Martin Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer, both as the result of trades. - Twenty-one head coaches named to the job, including Jacques Lemaire and Lamoriello himself three times. - The establishment of the team’s defensive philosophy, which would be its calling card for over two decades. - One 17-year, er, 15-year contract to a player now in Russia. - The departure of at least a dozen other players, chasing the money to places like Madison Square Garden and Minnesota. - From 1987-2012, qualifying for the playoffs in 21 seasons out of 23. Then came three straight seasons in which the Devils missed the playoffs. Then came the end of an era for Devils hockey. “They have not been good years. I don’t feel good about it. I take responsibility for that. I really do. For where we are right now. But now this is a chance to go forward,” said Lamoriello. All due respect to Brodeur and Stevens and Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko and every other player that wore the sweater, but to a man they’d say the same thing: Lou Lamoreillo was Devils hockey. His roster, his rules, his finger on the trigger for every coach he hired. His philosophy permeated every level, office and locker in the organization, from the way Devils employees wore their facial hair to the way they interacted with the public to the system the players executed on the ice. His fingers were on every facet of the organization, from player personnel (frequently briliant) to team marketing (or lack thereof). At least once in my career covering the team, he stopped me in the bowels of the arena to check my credential status -- president, GM, bouncer, perhaps. (Also, Lamoriello’s uncanny knack for keeping information from leaking was honored in Monday’s phone conference, as news of Shero’s hiring wasn’t broken until Lou himself broke it.) You don’t see moments like this often in sports, and especially not today when the lifespan of executive is generally shorter than it was when Lamoriello started. This is Jerry West giving up the Lakers’ GM gig. This is, perhaps more accurately, George Young leaving the New York football Giants -- a legend that built something dynastic, and then seemingly lost his touch. Unlike those two, Lamoriello will remain as the team’s president, but it’s fairly obvious what this move connotes. Lamoriello vowed on Monday that this wasn’t ownership pushing him upstairs. “This is my decision with 100 percent support of ownership,” he said. And it was … sorta. Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports that Devils ownership “pushed strongly” for Lamoriello to hire a new general manager , but that Shero was ultimately Lou’s pick. Josh Harris and David Blitzer purchased the Devils from Jeff Vanderbeek in 2013. While they took away Lamoriello’s business responsibilities – mutually agreed upon, allegedly so he could concentrate on hockey ops – they also backed him as general manager and team president. “I’d like to think that Lou would stay with this team as long as he likes,” Blitzer said. Yet Lamoriello indicated that this move was in the works for some time. “Something like this doesn’t happen overnight. The day I was brought in with new ownership, this type of a plan was talked about. Certainly my age isn’t hidden,” said Lamoriello, 73. “It’s the right thing. I think we have to be realistic in life. We have to be honest. We have a person at a perfect age (52), with experience.” Things had gotten ugly in the seasons following the ownership change. The departure of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk left an un-fillable void for the team, as Lamoriello frantically pieced together veteran players like a chef trying to save a over-salted dish. He fired coach Pete DeBoer, and named himself, Adam Oates and Scott Stevens as co-coaches. He traded for Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks after Martin Brodeur had re-upped with the team, causing a distraction and briefly a rift between the Devils and the best player in franchise history. What Lamoriello said at the time of the Schneider deal was what he said on Monday: If given the chance to make a significant move, you make the move, no matter the timing. With Shero in high demand this offseason, getting a hard look from teams like the Boston Bruins, Lamoriello felt it was imperative to sign him pronto. “Timing is everything in life. The opportunity to bring in someone like Ray Shero, you have to make that decision,” he said. Shero fits with another Lamoriello philosophy: Borrowing another team’s winning tradition. He did it when he sprinkled Canadiens fairy dust on his roster with Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Claude Lemieux and Stephane Richer. He cited it again in bringing in Shero, even if it might mean a shift in the team’s tenets. “I think there’s been a certain philosophy here that’s been successful for a number of years, and the decision was to get someone that has experience in different organizations but also a background in winning. I think that’s what’s extremely important in what you do. There is a difference,” said Lamoriello. *** Shero’s first experience with Lamoriello was when he was the head coach of the Providence Friars and Shero was a player at St. Lawrence University. His first experience with the Devils organization was when his father, the legendary Fred Shero, was the team’s first color commentator in 1982. He was fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer along with coach Dan Bylsma after Pittsburgh lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After having signed on in 2006, Shero helped build two conference champions and a Stanley Cup champion around Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Still under contract with the Penguins, he said he received a call from them telling Shero that Lamoriello was interested in speaking with him. He sat down with Lou and the Devils owners, and the decision was made to move forward with his taking over as general manager. “Working with Lou Lamoriello – a hockey Hall of Famer, one of the most respected GMs in the history of the game – wasn’t something I was going to turn down,” said Shero, for whom the Devils will owe no compensation to the Penguins There are two basic questions when it comes to Shero and the Devils: His autonomy and how he’s grown as a general manager.