Phyllis Van Orden didn’t know then that Lou Lamoriello had a future in hockey. She picks up the phone now having followed his career from afar, with enthusiasm.
“I’d love to reach out to Lou,” she says. “We were so proud of him.”
Lamoriello isn’t the easiest person to reach nowadays — he declined a request to talk for this story, for instance. Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 in large part due to his work building the Devils into a three-time Stanley Cup winner, he’s now trying to bring the Islanders to the same level after back-to-back semifinals appearances. After an 11-game losing streak coinciding with a COVID-19 outbreak, that won’t be easy.
But go back more than 50 years, before he was a Hall of Fame exec, and Lamoriello, just recently out of college, was a math teacher and the advisor for the Class of 1968 at Johnston Senior High School in Rhode Island.