The setting was idyllic. The Islanders gathered for their annual charity golf tournament last Sept. 19 at Glen Oaks Golf Club in Old Westbury on Long Island on a bright, sunny late-summer morning. The temperature hovered in the low 70s as the players began teeing off for charity.
Lou Lamoriello wasn’t golfing that day, and once the players shuffled off on their golf carts to their respective first holes, he gathered with the local media just outside of the clubhouse to chat about the upcoming season, the uneventful offseason, the future of Mathew Barzal (he signed a long-term contract extension a couple weeks later), and the surprising replacement of Barry Trotz with first-year head coach Lane Lambert.
But late in the discussion, one question was a bit more personal. Does Lamoriello, who has been working in the NHL since 1987, still get excited this time of year?
“When I stop getting excited, then I’ll know it’s time,” said the general manager, who turned 80 in October. “You have to feel good too, physically and mentally. That’s everybody though, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in it. If you feel like it’s a grind, start looking for something else.”
Despite the uneven season so far, there have been no indications Lamoriello feels it’s a grind, or that he’s worn down by the responsibility of the job, as he patiently and politely addressed questions about the team’s uninspiring first half and the unrest from portions of the fan base last week in Ottawa. Then on Monday, the Hockey Hall of Famer reminded everyone that he’s still capable of shaking up the NHL, executing the biggest trade of the season by acquiring Bo Horvat from Vancouver for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty and a first-round draft pick in either 2023 or 2024.
An Islanders team that was bad and boring for two months is suddenly much more compelling. Horvat, on a 50-goal pace, addresses their biggest need — scoring. Further, the trade might not be the last move that Lamoriello makes, as the 10th-place Islanders probably need more.