Toronto Maple Leafs: Why it’s too soon to judge Lou Lamoriello’s tenure

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With the Toronto Maple Leafs set to enter the most crucial part of their rebuild, it’s too early to judge the job Lou Lamoriello has done with the team.

This past weekend was the two year anniversary of Lou Lamoriello as the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager. Naturally, there was a lot of discussion on social media about the job Lamoriello has done with the Leafs up until this point.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a faction of Leafs Nation who believe Lamoriello has done an atrocious job and he should be relieved of his duties. Considering the Leafs have gone from being a New York Knicks-like tire fire of a franchise, to a now respectable, up-and-coming team, I think the whole “fire Lou” narrative some fans are throwing out there is a hasty conclusion.

Instead, I think it’s far too soon to cast judgment on what Lamoriello has done with the Maple Leafs. Has Lamoriello made some questionable, perhaps even bad, decisions with the Leafs? Absolutely. We can debate the Patrick Marleau contract all day, and the Jonathan Bernier extension was as close to a disaster as you can get, but outside of those two glaring moments, what has Lamoriello really done that’s so detrimental to the Leafs?

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Is his hair policy ridiculous? Probably. But at the same time it’s clear the Leafs have been trying to integrate a culture where group identity trumps individual identity, so I can get over this absurd hair rule that some say Lamoriello uses just to get players to conform to authority.

Aside from his rigid hair policy, and two questionable contracts, though, Lamoriello has overseen some positive changes with the Leafs. For starters, he somehow retained no salary when he traded Dion Phaneuf and his albatross contract to Ottawa. He also acquired Frederik Andersen, traded Roman Polak for a pair of picks, and, perhaps most importantly, he helped establish a foundation in Toronto.

I’m not saying fans should solely credit Lamoriello for this foundation, I think it’s quite obvious Brendan Shanahan, Mark Hunter, Kyle Dubas, Brandon Pridham, and Mike Babcock have played a massive role in rebuilding this franchise, too, but it’s also clear Shanahan has appointed Lamoriello and Babcock with the responsibility of addressing the media and controlling the narrative, which has also changed drastically during Lamoriello’s tenure.

In most cities you could say that doesn’t matter, but when you’re playing in the most hockey-obsessed city in the world where every decision comes with intense evaluation and scrutiny, it matters greatly.

As for the on-ice foundation, the Leafs’ core consists of pairs. They have two centres (Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri), two wingers (William Nylander and Mitch Marner), two defencemen (Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev), and a goalie (Frederik Andersen). Aside from those seven players, the team boasts an impressive collection of prospects, a group of veterans whose future with the team is uncertain (Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Jake Gardiner, who is due for a new contract after the 2018-19 season), and a boat load of cap space.

Needless to say, this team is far from a finished product, which is why I think it’s too early to cast judgment on what Lamoriello has done here in Toronto. With the team’s core now in place, and the taste of success in their mouths, the real fun begins for Lamoriello and the Leafs. What he does over the course of these next two seasons will truly shape the Leafs’ future, and once those decisions have been made, we can then make our own decision on the job Lamoriello has done with the Leafs.

Until those decisions are made, though, I don’t see how anyone can truly give a fair assessment of the job Lamoriello has done with the Leafs when there are a number of vital decisions still to come.

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What do you think about Lou Lamoriello’s first two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Do you think it’s too soon to cast judgment, too? Or do you have a differing opinion. Let us know your thoughts in the comemnts below.