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Dubas out as Leafs GM

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Shanahan: Decision not to renew Dubas deal 'hard' but best for Maple Leafs' future

TORONTO -- Maple Leafs president and alternate governor Brendan Shanahan said it was ultimately his choice to let go of general manager Kyle Dubas on Friday. How Shanahan arrived at the decision was a lengthy and dramatic process, culminating with a meeting they had Friday morning when Shanahan informed Dubas his contract -- which was set to expire June 30 -- would not be renewed.


"I had gotten to a different place about how I felt about the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs and what was best," Shanahan said during a news conference Friday. "As hard as it was and as hard as it is to make a significant change [regarding] someone you're close with and someone you're working with for nine years ...


I just felt different [recently], and that the long-term future of the Maple Leafs might have to change. I slept on that and woke up this morning and drove to Kyle's office to inform him we would not be renewing his contract."

The Maple Leafs announced the decision hours later via a news release with a short statement from Shanahan thanking Dubas for his "unwavering dedication" since the organization hired him in 2014.


It was Shanahan then who lured Dubas from his post as GM of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds into an assistant GM role with Toronto (that included GM duties with their American Hockey League affiliate Marlies). It was also Shanahan who promoted Dubas to the Maple Leafs GM spot in May 2018, after Shanahan opted not to renew the contract of then-GM Lou Lamoriello.


Dubas was a key part of building the Maple Leafs nucleus from there, including its core four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares. He also fired former coach Mike Babcock in 2019 and replaced him with current bench boss Sheldon Keefe, whom Dubas had hired to coach the Greyhounds in 2011 and the Marlies in 2015.

The Maple Leafs went 221-109-42 during the regular season with Dubas as GM, but the team frequently stumbled in the postseason. From 2016 to '22, Toronto made six consecutive first-round exits from the playoffs.


The Maple Leafs' first-round series win this year over the Tampa Bay Lightning marked the first time they advanced in a postseason since 2004. Toronto fell in five games to the Florida Panthers in the second round.


During his end-of-season media availability Monday, Dubas was whether he'd return to Toronto and said it would be a "family decision," making it clear the last year had been difficult on the homefront. Dubas also said that if he didn't return, he wouldn't seek another job elsewhere this year.


Those comments played a significant role in what transpired between Shanahan and Dubas over the following days.


In his Friday availability, Shanahan detailed the timeline he went through with Dubas in working toward a potential new contract. It began during last offseason when Shanahan told Dubas he would not receive an extension prior to the regular season but it was not a reflection of Dubas' future with the club. Shanahan was hopeful for a positive resolution.


That came about in mid-March when Shanahan -- pleased with what Dubas had done at the trade deadline, as he acquired the likes of Ryan O'Reilly, Noel Acciari and Luke Schenn -- approached Dubas and said he'd seen enough to begin extension talks.


"I didn't want [the contract] to be something on his mind going into the playoffs," Shanahan said. "I felt he had put the team in a position to have success, and it was important to me to not just wait and see what the [playoff] result was but to be consistent with the support I tried to give him on a daily basis and have something tangible presented to him."


Dubas came back to Shanahan about a week later and said he "was comfortable" moving forward but didn't want the discussions to be a distraction and directed Shanahan to work with his agent. Shanahan said he had "many good conversations" with Dubas' agent and felt they were "making progress." Even while the Maple Leafs were moving through the postseason, getting a deal done with Dubas remained top of mind.


"I felt that those conversations and the communications I got from Kyle had put me in a position where I could come to him with something that was pretty much a finished deal, that reflected what he wanted financially and what he wanted as a general manager," Shanahan said.


After the Maple Leafs fell in Game 5 to the Panthers on Saturday, Shanahan presented Dubas with the framework of a contract. Shanahan said Dubas seemed "pleased to receive that news so quickly."


The Maple Leafs performed their end-of-season media availabilities two days later, and Shanahan decided he wouldn't speak to media until Dubas' status was resolved. He didn't think Dubas should address the media either, but Dubas felt it was important he did so during the sessions on Monday, a decision Shanahan said he "respected."


"I definitely don't have it in me to go anywhere else," Dubas said Monday. "It'll either be here or it'll be taking time to recalibrate, reflect on the seasons here. It requires a full family discussion ... for me to commit to anything without having a fuller understanding of what the year took on them, it's probably unfair for me to answer. It was a very hard year on them."


Dubas' emotional statements caused Shanahan to pause and question whether his GM would accept a new contract.


"I think at that point there was a dramatic shift in my thinking as I drove home that night," Shanahan said. "As Kyle expressed, he may not want to be our GM, and I have to take that very seriously. As I said to him the day before [when we met privately], I understood those feelings [around family] and the pressure ... but it was a very real possibility for me at that point I'd be needing to look somewhere else."


Still, Shanahan was hoping he and Dubas would come to a resolution. He met with Dubas again Wednesday, but Shanahan "did not have clarity" on Dubas' mindset and "it further made me feel ... he might not want to be the manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs."

The next day, Dubas told Shanahan his agent would call him. The agent did so and presented Shanahan with a new financial package. Shanahan did not hear from Dubas throughout the day until an email came Thursday night in which Dubas said he did still want to be the Maple Leafs' general manager. But Shanahan was already in that "different place" about the GM role.


"A gap had risen in the contract status," said Shanahan, "But nevertheless, after the email I received from Kyle, I just felt differently."


Shanahan stressed the outcome wasn't related to money but went back to how he felt there were previous indications the sides would work things out and he was "less sure" that Dubas wanted the job after Monday's news conference. While Dubas had expressed privately to Shanahan his familial concerns, those weren't something Shanahan expected for Dubas to make public.


"At that point I hadn't ruled Kyle Dubas out," Shanahan said. "But I certainly had to make sure that I was thinking of other options as well."


As for whom that successor might be, Shanahan said he will be "open-minded" about all future candidates but that having an experienced general manager would be "an attractive quality." Dubas was a first-time NHL GM when Shanahan promoted him into the slot.


There's a level of urgency from Shanahan as well to find that next person sooner than later. It's possible Keefe's future with the club hangs in that balance, too. Shanahan didn't directly touch on Keefe's status during his 30-minute news conference but did say there were personnel choices that would be on the next GM's plate.


"I have spoken with most of our staff. I have called several of our players," Shanahan said. "But some of those [pending] decisions have to be the responsibility of the new general manager. I'm going to lean heavily on [assistant GM] Brandon Pridham as we get through this time."



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A WHOOOOOLE lot of "explanation" for the simple situation of "Dubas' build of the Maple Leafs didn't get it done, the fans are pissed, someone's gotta get the axe"....and then off goes Dubas' head.

Nice little attempt at the story Shanny tried spinning around that though.....ohhhh, the angst....we REALLLLY want Dubas back, but, but, everything has been so hard on his family, he may not want to come back.
And Dubas himself...well played. Play the family card. NO ONE will dispute you on that, right?

Look...I know family COULD have played into it, and OBVIOUSLY, I am not even close to privy to what all went on behind the scenes, but I think it is safe to say we've all seen this type of movie before:
Team with high expectations, continually fails, and fails miserably, and thus, some coach, GM or star player's gotta take the heat. Shanny himself probably should be taking some heat, but in his position, mostly invisible, who the hell really knows how he factors in to the team dynamic....oh, yea...he hires the failed GM's and coaches.... :shifty: 

Do you think if the Leafs would have gotten through the Panthers and playing the Hurricanes RIGHT NOW that any of these thoughts are going through the minds of either Shanahan or Dubas?
And if the Leafs win the Cup, of course, Toronto is gonna wanna "pull a Lightning" and go back to back, and maybe get a shot at a third....so they will be keeping the band together, I believe.


IMO, bottom line is, Dubas' build of the Leafs didn't get it done.....again.
This was one of the strongest Maple Leafs teams they have had there in quite some time...meaning the most complete team....and they STILL didn't get much more done.
Wouldn't surprise me if all the emotional investment they put into beating the TB Lightning spilled over, and they were completely spent (or worse, took Florida for granted) for Round 2....thus why the Panthers handled them in 5.

Dubas not getting it done for a long suffering franchise with one of the most rabid fanbases in the league surely is enough to get the guy fired and I believe it is as simple as that.
Any other GM in any other front office, and it is as basic as that.

But oh no...this is freakin TORONTO we are talking about, so drama has to be injected into the proceedings.

From a rival fanbase's standpoint, I am giddy watching the Leafs spin their wheels like this. I mean, there IS something to be said of consistency and stability at the front office level and have that filter on down.  I will likely enjoy watching this team take one step forward, and two steps backwards! :bigteeth:

From a hockey fan standpoint, this kinda makes me sad, though.
Because honestly, I think Kyle Dubas is an intelligent individual. He made mistakes, but he also set the team up the best its been, like I said, in YEARS, and, he likely continues to learn and build an even better model in the coming seasons.

So Toronto now will need to start over at the front office position, which, more than likely, means ANOTHER clean out of the bench management, and with the UFA's the team has, and the looming contract needs of Auston Matthews, Ryan O'Reilly, and Willie Nylander...then Mitch Marner after that (along with rebuilding the defense and finding their 'go-to' goalie), they will be installing a new guy as GM, who probably has to learn all the hard lessons Dubas had already learned along the way in how to manage the team in Toronto.

And if Kyle Dubas really does want to take a season off, be with his family, reset....whenever he is ready to get back to the GM race, some team will end up with a smart, more battle hardened guy for their front office.

Edited by TropicalFruitGirl26
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And there we go, Dubas is the first domino. Next: Spezza as he should probably resign.


It is me, or Shanahan should be the very first to take the door? I mean, he instigated the Shanaplan... Honestly, I don't see which major mistake Dubas has made. Toronto filled the missing puzzle pieces before the trade deadline the right way, He took a gamble on both Samsonov and Murray, and honestly things were more than acceptable on the goaltending side, The Leafs beat a still very good Lightning team in the first round and fell against a hot Panthers team that beat the Presidents' Trophy winner and had nothing to lose.


Ok, the leaders that are Marner, Matthews, Nylander, Tavares didn't really showed up in the Florida series but every team in the playoffs have one of two leaders that go cold at some point. On the other side Reilly exploded after a disappointing regular season. The real pain point: the home ice disadvantage because the Leafs were completely paralyzed playing in their building, finishing 1-5 in the postseason. Next time, Toronto should really try to get the second WC spot. Not more.


Anyway, that's too bad IMO and it sounds like a waste. The Leafs should've kept the same crew in place and learn from it. The Stars choked several times in the 1990s after dominating the regular season before finally grabbing the Cup in '99.

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For me, the Leafs organization completely drank the koolaid. Suddenly, guys with limited experience knew everything, any collected hockey knowledge from before the age of Big Data was considered passe, and that's *me* saying that... Shanahan is now in a bind of his own design: he allowed Dubas to hamstring him with a $10M player who’s not really worth that kind of cap hit, who will be 33 at the start of next season, and it forced him to pay Matthews/Marner to the moon and back.



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Couldn't happen to a nicer organization ..... (sarcasm font)


Seriously ....curious now to who the Leafs bring in as next GM.  Lots of rumors of what to do with Matthews.  Reminds of that great Clash song ......




First thing that new GM is gonna need to address is will the Leafs let Matthews walk or try to trade him .....


Stay tuned ...this is about to get more interesting.  WoW must be having a coronary by now ......

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/19/2023 at 9:25 PM, ruxpin said:


If you prorate... Never mind, I got nuthin.

If he ever came back, I would  prorate the Seattle Kraken's 2 years in the league to 20 and how many 2nd round games they have won to compare to 20 years of the leafs.

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