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New Jersey Devils moving on after Lou Lamoriello leaves for Toronto

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NEWARK, New Jersey — When the New Jersey Devils hired Ray Shero as general manager in May, there was never a thought it would lead to the end Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello's nearly three-decade tenure with the club.

Shero came in to replace the 72-year-old Lamoriello as general manager, with Lamoriello set to remain president.

That all ended Thursday, when Lamoriello resigned to take over as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, ending an era that saw New Jersey win three Stanley Cup titles under Lamoriello.

"When I came in here, this was never on my radar," Shero said. "Lou and I worked closely together for the last 2 1/2 months. I was more of an extension of Lou. As a sounding board, Lou was invaluable."

"This all happened very quickly," Devils co-owner Josh Harris said. "It all happened within the last 48 hours. Lou, (co-owner) David (Blitzer) and I sat down for a period of months. People like Ray Shero don't come along every day. Lou was very helpful in bringing Ray Shero aboard. We all spent a lot of time together. We all thought we were working well together. "

But Harris realized that Lamoriello couldn't have been happy with the way the organization was going.

PHOTO: FILE - In this April 14, 2014, file photo, then-New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello talks to the media in Newark, N.J. The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired longtime NHL executive Lou Lamoriello as general manager. Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said Thursday, July 23, 2015, he wanted NHL experience, and he got almost three decades of it in Lamoriello. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
FILE - In this April 14, 2014, file photo, then-New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello talks to the media in Newark, N.J. The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired longtime NHL executive Lou Lamoriello as general manager. Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said Thursday, July 23, 2015, he wanted NHL experience, and he got almost three decades of it in Lamoriello. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

"When you're used to having absolute control of an organization, then you don't have it anymore, it had to be difficult for him," Harris said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. "It's easy to see why he might consider taking over a great team like Toronto. We're out to build a winner, an elite hockey team and it has to start with a strong organization in place."

The Devils have failed to qualify for playoffs the last three years after winning the Eastern Conference title and losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.

"There's always change with a new leadership," Harris said. "We have to embrace it and make it a positive thing."

Lamoriello spent 28 years in charge of the Devils. He spent the second half of last season behind the bench, serving as the interim head coach, along with assistants Scott Stevens and Adam Oates.

"He leaves a lasting legacy with the Devils' franchise," Harris said. "We are incredibly optimistic about the future of the Devils' organization and we would like to thank Lou for that. Lou was a friend. I'll miss his advice, his counsel and his friendship. We did a lot of work getting ready for today. We're going to take the high quality that exists with this franchise and keep making it better."

Harris said that there was no need to hire a replacement for Lamoriello as team president.

"This was more about Lou moving forward," Shero said. "This was not about me."

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