Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has been called many things
by his players: shrewd, stubborn, smart, stingy, as well as a
register of unprintable nouns. Lamoriello's unyielding management
style, which includes a tendency to banish players who irk him to
such outposts as Edmonton, has become the Devils' defining
characteristic. If New Jersey fans have any concern about the
future of their team, it is that YankeeNets, the corporate
consortium that bought the Devils from John McMullen in August,
might mess with Lamoriello's M.O. Because the most accurate word
to describe Lamoriello is this: winner.

Before New Jersey won the Cup last year, there were still
detractors who slighted Lamoriello's resume. The Devils' previous
Cup win had been viewed by some as fluky: It came in
lockout-shortened 1995 when the club rose from fifth place in the

Last season, however, was the real thing. The run, sustained by
players such as nifty forward Patrik Elias, bruising defenseman
Scott Stevens and composed goalie Martin Brodeur, ultimately came
down to Lamoriello. "Say what you want, Lou's got guts and he's
amazing at what he does," says veteran defenseman Ken Daneyko.

One of the gutsy things he did last year was fire high-strung
coach Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the regular season
and elevate amiable assistant Larry Robinson. The move, shocking
to outsiders, sent waves of calm through the Devils' dressing
room. No one benefited more than right wing Alexander Mogilny,
whom Lamoriello had recently acquired from the Canucks. After
Mogilny, a talented sniper with a fragile psyche, snapped a slump
with a crucial third-period goal against the Flyers in Game 6 of
the conference finals, Robinson put his arms around him on the

Most of the Devils embrace Lamoriello's team-first philosophy,
and the club's extraordinary depth assures that they will again
be a Cup contender even though they opened the season without
All-Star defenseman Scott Niedermayer and center Jason Arnott,
who were battling Lamoriello over contracts. Said Niedermayer a
few days before the opener, "He's tough, and he likes to do
things his way."

Devils fans wouldn't have it any other way.


COLOR PHOTO: J. MCISAAC/B. BENNETT STUDIOS With 35 goals, Elias was a Devil to defend.

Fast Fact
In the franchise's 25-year history no player has scored as many
as 100 points in a season.



FORWARDS 3 Deep, talented and young group

DEFENSE 2 Hard-hitting Stevens, 36, still one of
NHL's best

GOALTENDING 1 Brodeur gives Devils edge in every game

SPECIAL TEAMS 3 Rafalski makes PP roll; Madden a
shorthanded wiz

MANAGEMENT 1 Lamoriello is the league's top general