Summer Crisis: Kyle Dubas

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Leafs Nation went into summer panic mode after reporter Elliotte Friedman revealed the Colorado Avalanche requested and were permitted to speak with Assistant General Manager (asst. GM), Kyle Dubas, in regards to their open General Manager (GM) position. Coming off a historic season, including an exhilarating run in the playoffs, followed by the additions of Andreas Borgman & Calle Rosen to their roster, the Maple Leafs and their fans were enjoying the glow and positivity from their recent success. The news of Kyle Dubas’ negotiations with Colorado blindsided fans and sent Leafs Nation into a frenzy.

When Dubas was hired in 2014, the initial intention was for him to develop into general manager after time spent under the tutelage of an experienced GM. A year later, Lou Lamoriello was hired as GM and the pair were to form a Batman and Robin tandem, negotiating trades and player contracts, giving Dubas the experience and connections required to become a successful GM. Lamoriello intentions to groom Dubas were publicly known, but made it was made clear Dubas must earn the promotion to GM. However, when Mark Hunter was promoted to asst. GM in August 2016, Dubas’ career appeared to have deviated from this course.

Originally, Hunter’s promotion was only to be a simple formality and both men’s roles would remain unchanged, allowing them to focus and deliver on their strengths. Hunter would continue to manage scouting and Dubas would focus on managing Marlies’ day to day operations as well as run the analytics department. If Dubas was to be Lamoriello’s successor and he is still under contract, why would the Maple Leafs allow Dubas to speak with the Colorado Avalanche?

As the saying goes, the Leafs may have too much of a good thing. Led by Brendan Shanahan, the Leafs have a highly intelligent front office, envied by most of the NHL, and the results are starting to show on ice. Unfortunately, with so many great people and so few open positions, it would come as no surprise some individuals may move on to other opportunities.

Whether Dubas or Hunter step up as GM, I am confident the team will continue to build upon their accomplishments to date. Unfortunately, remarks posted on Twitter from Leafs Nation suggest some do not share this sentiment. One prominent concern was Hunter’s old school methods and his inclination to not listen to the analytics team. During his time with the London Knights, all reports mentioned Hunter as someone who utilized all tools available to improve his team and this type of approach is an important aspect of the Leafs front office. The Leafs have relied on a committee of hockey minds, consisting of everyone from Coach Babcock to president Brendan Shanahan, to make critical decisions about the organization. Notions suggesting Hunter would somehow drastically change this framework are exacerbated and nonsensical, and furthermore, even if we were to lose Dubas, the others within the organization can more than adequately keep things moving.

Rest easy Leafs Nation, our beloved team is not regressing. In a situation where a key individual leaves the organization, the decision framework Shanahan has built will allow the organization to compensate and continue to grow. As we speak, plans which I intend to discuss in coming articles, are already in motion to upgrade the organization in areas still requiring improvement. I expect next season will be another exhilarating year for our young and exciting team. With the knowledge that our management group has built an effective framework for success, I hope you can now take a deep breathe and trust our team will bring home the Stanley Cup.

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