Lamoriello part of R.I. Hockey Hall of Fame’s inaugural class

Johnston Sun Rise ·

What most people know is that Louis Anthony “Lou” Lamoriello is one of the nation’s most respected and decorated college and professional hockey executives in history.

What most people don’t know about Lamoriello, affectionately known as “Double L” during his storied career as a coach and athletic director at Providence College, is that before his rise into national prominence “Lou” was a math teacher at Johnston High School.

“Mr. Lamoriello taught in Johnston beginning in 1964,” Supt. Dr. Bernard DiLullo confirmed for the Sun Rise yesterday. “He taught math at Johnston High School until his resignation in June of 1972 to pursue his career in athletics.”

DiLullo, who noted that Lamoriello was tenured in 1967, added: “He must have been a very well respected teacher as the school committee accepted his resignation with ‘deep regret” but also with ‘great joy’ that he was going into the work he loved.”

Sunday, the respect and admiration that hockey people have for Lamoriello surfaced inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center where the now General Manager with the National Hockey League’s red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs was one of 16 distinguished people that made up the Charter Class of the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame.

Lamoriello and the Charter Class will be officially inducted into the newly-established Hockey Hall on Sept. 20 at the Twin River Resort Center during the Enshrinement Dinner and Celebration.

He was also born in Johnston on Oct. 21, 1942 and developed his hockey skills in the Providence Youth Leagues before starring at La Salle Academy.

He then went to Providence College where he captained both the hockey and baseball teams and upon his graduation became assistant coach of both sports. Four years later, he was named the Friars’ head hockey coach and he served in that capacity until 1987.

“Lou” became PC’s Athletic Director and he was the founder and driving force behind the formation of Hockey East, where he served as Commissioner. In his honor, the Lamoriello Cup is presented annually to the league’s champion.

As noted, Lamoriello’s career is steeped with honors. He was previously inducted into seven halls of fame and in April of 1987 he was hired as President of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Ironically, one of Lamoriello’s former stars at PC and the Devils is Chris Terreri, the one-time Pilgrim High School All-Stater and PC All-American, All-American Academic and two-time Olympian who won two Stanley Cups with the Devils.

Perhaps Vin Cimini, who is chairman of the state’s first official hockey hall Board of Directors, said it best at Sunday’s ceremony while touting selectees Lamoriello, Terreri and former Lady Friar Sarah DeCosta-Hayes that “This is the Mount Rushmore of Rhode Island hockey.”

Cimini, a long-time marketing/advertising executive, began: “Typically, Hall of Fame classes are highlighted by a select few who stand out. However, the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame is different; each deserves the spotlight.”

For example, as Cimini explained Sunday: “Our charter class is comprised of 11 people who have represented the USA in World Championships, including eight Olympics. Ten have previously been enshrined in the International, USA and AHL Hockey Halls of Fame.”

As equally impressive, three have their names engraved in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup and many have set records that still stand in the sport.

Establishment of the RI Hockey Hall of Fame actually began 18 months ago when members of the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society and Hockey Rhode Island began researching and profiling what turned out to be a pool of over 175 qualified candidates. The group then reduced that total of 40 before coming up with the 16 Charter Class members.

“All 40 had the credentials to be in the charter class,” Cimini noted. “However, we realistically had to put a limit on the class. We truly believe the committee got it right. Those who narrowly missed this year will soon get their day!”

He said the Hockey Hall’s Selection Committee is comprised of nine qualified and highly-respected individuals who are steeped in sports and hockey history from hockey writers to broadcasters and sports executives who all have knowledge of the game, integrity, objectivity and impartiality.”

The Charter Class also includes Curt Bennett, Harvey Bennett, Sr., Joe Cavanagh, Bill Belisle, Bryan Berard, Keith Carney, Cammi Granato, Brian Lawton, Louis A.R. Pieri, Dick Rondeau, Mathieu Schneider, Zellio Toppazzini and Ron Wilson.

Below are the brief bios of DeCosta-Hayes and Terreri, whose names are also synonymous with Rhode Island Interscholastic League hockey.

SARA DECOSTA HAYES – She is a former All-State goalie at Toll Gate High in Warwick who was the first girl to played in the RI Interscholastic League’s Championship Division who went on to become a two-time USA Hockey Women’s Player of the Year. She’s also a two-time USA Olympian who helped win the Gold Medal in 1998 and the Silver in 2002. She was also named a genuine Jewish Sports Heroine by Brandeis University.

CHRIS TERRERI – He was a two-time All-Stater at Pilgrim High and Hockey East Player of the Year, a two-time All-American, Academic All-American and finalist for the Hobey Baker Award while starring at Providence College. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils. He donned the USA colors in three World Championships, including the 1998 Calgary Olympics.