Talkin’ about Lou’s Rules

By now you’ve probably got an inkling that Lou Lamoriello has a few practices that make him a bit unique as a general manager. Call it old school or military-like, either way, he has a number of somewhat quirky ideas about how a team should be run, and how to push the notion of “It’s all about the logo on the front“.

Now that prospect development camp is underway, we’ve sort of embarked on the upcoming season to an extent, and there’s been more talk about Lou this summer than ever with the way the draft and free agency have unfolded. It seems his grip on the team has tightened. 

So let’s talk about some of Lou’s Rules, and whether or not, in 2016, they might still be good for the team.

The Numbers

We’re not talking about dCorsiXGF%_Per60/60P90x or anything like that. This is about the numbers on the back of the sweaters. 

Lamoriello has guidelines on which numbers players can use, and the general takeaway is that he doesn’t like high numbers because they’re somehow seen as flashy or stand-out-ish. As far as I can tell, Lou’s Rules stipulate that players shouldn’t wear anything above 30, with exceptions for guys with long standing in the league (Mogilny with 89, Jagr with 68) or goaltenders (30, 31, 35 and 40). 

From All About the Jersey:

The thinking behind keeping everyone’s numbers low is ostensibly to keep people focused on the name on the front of the jersey rather than the back, which is definitely a reflection of Lou’s philosophy. One drawback is the constant changing of jersey numbers as the Devils try to keep all of the jerseys below 30 each season.

We might be seeing a little of this already, as Toronto has yet to release an Auston Matthews number 34 jersey to the world for obscene sales, since apparently he still hasn’t been officially given that number. As it’s been noted a few times in the past, this rule is a bit flimsy though, with guys like Kadri and Rielly able to hold on to their numbers (43 and 44 respectively), and Nylander being given 39. 

Still, it’ll be interesting to see what Matthews ends up with, as well as Marner who’s worn 93 with the Knights. I definitely wouldn’t count on the latter getting his way.

As a fan, having a rule like this in place is unfortunate. Matthews jerseys could be selling out as we speak if they were made available right after the draft. And who wouldn’t want to see Marner throw on Dougie’s old 93? It’s almost like the Leafs don’t want my money.

The funniest part of Lou’s numbers rule is there’s a ban on number 13, which is sort of cute if it’s rooted in superstition. Lou did run a team named after Satan himself for a quarter century, after all. No matter, with Sundin donning that number for the Leafs, it’s doubtful anyone would try to wear it soon anyway.

Buzz off

This was the earliest noticeable change when Lou was hired. At the beginning of last season, there wasn’t a beard or mustache in sight. Tyler Bozak’s hockey hair? Gone. 

Sticking with Lamoriello’s message of “professionalism”, players had to tidy things up.

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It’s hard to get too upset about something as minor as this, but in a league that’s already so painfully boring and devoid any notable personalities, it just adds to the reputation the NHL has built as a no fun league. 

Entry-Level Contracts

This rule, or whatever the hell you want to call it, is a bit more serious than the rest, and probably something we’ll hear about more in the coming weeks. It’s essentially the reason I wanted to put together this little guide.

Lamoriello doesn’t like handing out bonuses to rookies on their ELCs. That much we know for sure. Problem is, with Auston Matthews now in the fold, the team almost doesn’t have a choice, considering he’s the first overall selection.

The past 11 first overall picks have all maxed out their bonus structure for their entry-levels, and you’d think Matthews would obviously do the same. But he hasn’t signed anything yet. 

As Chris Johnston notes, here’s what Matthews would be looking for:

• $925,000 in salary, with $92,500 of it paid in signing bonus;
• $850,000 in “Schedule A” bonuses, which are tied to individual achievements such as goals, points, time on ice, etc.;
• $2 million in “Schedule B” bonuses, which are given for league-wide excellence such as trophy nominations or finishing among the scoring leaders, making them extremely tough to hit.”

There’s no reason to be concerned about this negotiation going sideways, since there’s plenty of time before now and the opening of the season. But for talks that should be so straight-forward, delays in the process are puzzling. And as Johnston notes in that Sportsnet piece, this is a situation at least worth keeping an eye on.

Put it on mute

You’ve probably noticed stories and rumours regarding the Leafs don’t leak through the media like they once did. When a trade or signing happens, chances are Toronto’s official PR account is relaying the news first. 

When it comes to this winning culture Lamoriello wants to establish, I like this measure best, and think it’s particularly well-suited to a place like Toronto. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way old school when it comes to how I think teams should be run. Players, coaches, and even front office staff should be accountable and speak with media. But in the so-called hockey mecca, things can really get out of hand.


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There isn’t a management group in the world that can stop this sort of nonsense, but it seems front offices in the past have almost helped things along when it comes to attacks on players. Making bold predictions, putting players in positions to get steamrolled both on the ice and in the scrums, they really haven’t handled things well. 

With such a young crop of players now making up much of the Leafs core, Lamoriello and Babcock have continually reminded us that they’ve made a priority of creating a better (or “safer”) environment than past regimes. Shutting out a few vultures and tightening up on trade rumours has been a good start. 

  • Jeremy Ian

    Ad hominem redux: Simmons is a prick. Just like Harold Ballard.

    Exactly what those “experiences” with Cam Charron?

    If you click the tweet, you’ll see some hysterical reactions. My favorite it this one:

    “Sean J. ‏@kavs86 19 Aug 2014

    @simmonssteve how come no team has hired you? That’s right, you’re a goddamn idiot.”

    As is this one:

    “Curtis Brooks ‏@Cerdis9 19 Aug 2014
    @simmonssteve Maybe now all the unnamed sources who give you inside org. info will give it to @Jeffler instead.”

    Yeah, I am all in on the cone of silence. 2014-15 was a cringeworthy season, made worse by irresponsible reporting.

  • Kyle Becker

    The Numbers – this is stupid, let players wear what they want to wear, including the honoured numbers

    Buzz Off – I like this because when players have facial hair/long hair they typically look like dirt bags (ie. Toew’s sideburns, Crosby’s mustache, Letang’s hair, Burns’ beard, etc.)

    Entry-Level Contracts – in general I think bonuses should be avoided as much as possible for salary cap purposes, but Matthews better be maxed out

    Put It On Mute – this has been great, we no longer have to deal with spineless Nonis telling his weasel cousin Dreger who to trash/say is considered being traded

    Overall, I think his rules are good, but seriously, let players wear the numbers they want.

  • Gary Empey

    I really like the idea of all numbers under 30. As the years progress I am having a more difficult time remembering most of the Leafs numbers which I never did in the old days when few numbers were over 30. With the original 6 I could remember every player in the league’s number.

    This quote I am totally against. “Players, coaches, and even front office staff should be accountable and speak with media.”

    With all of the snakes in the Leafs press I would prefer that the players & management make a choice when they speak after a game & who they want to speak with. Simmon’s would never get another real quote ever again although I believe he’s living in a fantasy world now making up his reports. Maybe players still give a reporters a few minutes in between periods for one of the HNIC staff talking about the game & not grill them over a teams decision or personal problems within the team.

    I also enjoy the fact that Lou is keeping the media in the dark & allowing them to speculate like the toadstools that they are. We all know what toadstools grow in & how that relates to the Leafs press.

  • Andy55

    I kinda like Lou’s rules, especially the number (ignore my avatar!) It’s probably a generational thing – ok, it is a generational thing, I’m old enough to remember the last Cup – but 1-30 are what hockey numbers oughta be.

    I can accept doubles like 44, 55, etc, but numbers like 37 or 43 or 51 just grind my eyes. As for Auston, give him a number like 12, which I’ve seen him wear in the past (link below). 34 is just -bleh -, perfect for Robidas.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2525302-up-to-dater-auston-matthews-unorthodox-audition-to-be-no-1-in-2016-nhl-draft