Lou Lamoriello's departure caught Devils by surprise

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: President Lou Lamoriello (L) and General Manager Ray Shero of the New Jersey Devils look on from the Devils draft table during Round One of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: President Lou Lamoriello (L) and General Manager Ray Shero of the New Jersey Devils look on from the Devils draft table during Round One of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Devils general manager Ray Shero just went about his business with Lou Lamoriello for the last two and a half months. They shared ideas and thoughts about New Jersey. And then … the last 48 hours Lamoriello – who had stepped aside to be team president earlier in the summer – was gone, announced Thursday that he would be the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

“This was never on my radar, but anyone who knows Lou, he never acted that way,” Shero said. “It was always about what’s best for the Devils.”

As far as the Devils were concerned, Lamoriello was all in for them, even in his new role. Co-owner Josh Harris indicated Lamoriello seemed to dislike not having complete control over the Devils anymore. Instead he had to make decisions with Shero, and this had to be difficult for a man who had been in charge of New Jersey for 28 years.

Imagine a newer, younger prototype coming in to your work place and telling you how to do your job. Not fun if you’re 72 and won multiple Cups in New Jersey, like Lamoriello.

“I just think as a personal matter when you’re used to having your hand on absolute control of the organization, Lou was president, ray was GM. I think it was a different situation for him. I think I would be speculating beyond that,” Devils co-owner Josh Harris said. “I think we all need to take a step back and think about this from a human perspective. It’s relatively easy to see why he might consider a great team like Toronto as an opportunity.”

This would be interesting considering Lamoriello is going to a place that has a superstar coach (Mike Babcock) and a former All-Star (Brendan Shanahan) player as team president with the Maple Leafs. If Lamoriello had trouble sharing power with Shero – who is one of the more even-keeled, likeable general managers in the NHL – how will he deal with the egos in Toronto? 

Said Harris, “Very very recently we found out, Lou as a personal matter, it wasn’t working for him. This all came very quickly. And so the last 48 hours, we’ve all had to do a lot of work getting ready for today.” 

Shero was glowing in his praise of Lamoriello and said the last two and a half months were, “very valuable for me.” 

He said he will take that knowledge and move forward with it.

Shero is now the organization’s unquestioned leader and its face. This may be the first time in his GM career he hasn’t had someone lording over him. In Pittsburgh it was co-owner Mario Lemieux. For the last two and a half months, it was Lou.

Shero was adamant that this was not a team that could, or should spend to the salary cap. Even though according to General Fanager, the Devils currently have the lowest payroll in the NHL.

"Talking about the team and the payroll, it's pretty evident over the last few months the direction of the hockey team. By not re-signing some players by July 1 and going with a younger group, part and parcel that is a lower payroll,” Shero said. “Fortunately we do have the ownership here that has the available wherewithal. There's going to be a time and a place when you are going to step up. Right now, it's about the younger players."

This is his strategy and he will enact it, and not have someone whispering in his ear.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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