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Former Maple Leafs GM Shares Regrets About Leaving the Team

Did Kyle Dubas miss a great opportunity by leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs. Former GM Gord Stellick believes he did. Here’s why.

Gord Stellick was the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs for only a little more than a year – from April 1988 until August 1989. At the age of 30, he was the youngest general manager in NHL history. But he sure recalls it well; and, he names leaving the team as the biggest regret of his hockey life.

In the video below, Stellick weighs in on the recent Maple Leafs drama, where now former general manager Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs decided to part company. It’s really worth listening to if you are a fan of the team.

In Retrospect, for Stellick, the Troubles Were Worth Putting Up With

In this post, I want to share and consider the recollections of the former Maple Leafs general manager now 35 years after the fact as he reflects on his time with the Maple Leafs. The one clear takeaway is that, while it made sense at the time for Stellick to leave, he now regrets that decision to this very day.

As the former Maple Leafs general manager spoke on the Kyper and Bourne Show, he shared his regrets of leaving the organization. He also believed that one day, in retrospect, Kyle Dubas might too regret forcing the hand of the team about the job.

Related: Could the Maple Leafs Pass on Re-Signing Michael Bunting?

Stellick Spoke about Regrets and Missed Opportunities

For this former general manager, the memories of his time with the Maple Leafs are bittersweet. On the video, he recalled the strange times brought about by the ownership of Harold Ballard. Ballard was known for his unique approach to team management. He was publicly vocal and seemed to relish criticizing his players through the media.

Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs GM 1
Kyle Dubas now former Maple Leafs GM 1

However, while Stellick doesn’t mince the challenges that he and the player faced back then, he also recognizes and appreciates the phenomenal opportunity Ballard provided him.

Stellick Made a Decision That Still Haunts Him

The decision that Stellick has come to regret as time passed was the “fateful” choice to leave the Maple Leafs and pursue his career elsewhere. He noted that he had a chance to move to the New York Rangers organization at the time, and hints it seemed far better than what was going on with the Maple Leafs.

Almost four decades later, Stellick admits that leaving the team was a choice he will forever lament. Although the move presented positive aspects for his media career, he now yearns for the chance to relive those moments at Maple Leaf Gardens. Even the little things, such as driving his car into that historic venue’s parking lot, was so special.

But he also agrees that the pressure and expectations associated with playing for the Maple Leafs were unparalleled (as they still are).

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Trade Matthews, Marner, or Nylander

Stellick Knows What Life Was Like for Dubas

Stellick seemed pretty clear that he knew the weight Dubas felt from working with the Maple Leafs. He gets it that working for the Maple Leafs carries huge pressure. The team’s legacy and fan base demand success and, in some ways, overshadow any personal accomplishments.

He also spoke about the media scrutiny and expectations placed upon the players. In his mind they are like no other franchise. Even players from Sweden who played with the team at the time understood the weight of representing the Maple Leafs and the passion it evoked.

He wishes he might have had a chance to speak with Dubas about his own experiences – perhaps encouraging him to have made a different choice. [Although, watching Dubas at the media interviews, I doubt it would have made a difference.]

Stellick Lauds the Impact of Brendan Shanahan on the Organization

Stellick acknowledged in the video the impact of Brendan Shanahan, who brought success and a change in culture to the organization. Shanahan’s accomplishments include winning the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. However, he also made significant changes as the team’s president.

Brendan Shanahan Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs
Brendan Shanahan Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs

Stellick admires Shanahan’s efforts to preserve the team’s traditions, such as the iconic Maple Leafs jersey. I agree with Stellick on that point. Shanahan has also worked to heal past hurts with players such as Doug Gilmour.

The Bottom Line

What’s so interesting to me in this video was Stellick’s reflections on his time with the Maple Leafs. He met tons of challenges, but he loved being part of such a storied franchise. He really gave the sense in the interview that he believed Dubas has now missed opportunities.

That fact reminds him of the lasting impact that decisions can have. The Maple Leafs are unique in that effect. While the team strives for success and sometimes fails, the history is so rich that it’s a memory that lasts forever.

He seems to genuinely feel bad that Dubas won’t take more advantage of that.

Related: A Counterpoint to “Maple Leafs Marner Might Be the Odd Man Out”



  1. afp1961

    May 20, 2023 at 7:43 am

    Jim, all these years that I have been anti Dubas and had to listen to so many of your followers snipe at me with little to no fact. Where are they now?

    What Dubas did, on the surface was incomprehensible. Any big business, upon hearing from one of their key leaders that he is not sure he has it in him, would make an immediate change. They cannot sit around waiting. Imagine the CEO of GM or CEO of any large company stating to the world, “Im not sure, and I need to reflect, the toll is a factor….” BODs and sahreholders who watch stock prices, monitor company brand and ESG would be demanding immedaite answers.

    I have stated for years, on your site and many others, that Dubas was too green, naive, immature, unready for a hockey market like Toronto. His “I can and I will” , steadfast loyalty to his core four, thinking he could revolutionize hockey through the end of a pencil and applying analytics while throwing traditional hockey values out the window are all symols of his demise. His last statements on Monday, emphatically put the exclamation mark on his lack of maturity and self awareness around the whole situation.

    • bdjbent

      May 20, 2023 at 7:54 am

      His word to two of the three is what, made him say what he said. As soon as he have broken that word. No one would thrust him. “As long as i am GM, you will not be traded” better to shut up. Still i think it control related and not about the moeny.

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  4. Hank the Crank

    May 21, 2023 at 7:59 am

    Pure clickbait. Why not mention Stellick in the title? Oh wait, no one would’ve cared. You have the gall to show Dubas’ pic, but the article is a fluff piece of some two-bit GM from almost four decades ago. I’t seems Dubas is well versed in how to “GM” a team since he’s been doing it years longer than Stellicks’ sniff he had. His decision is admirable considering the BS he’s had to put up with which of course is all media driven. By ”firing” Dubas, Shanny’s just trying to save his own ass by not looking soft, or even stupid when Dubas said he wasn’t sure he wanted to return. Can you blame him? Kyle, take the millions you’ve earned and have a nice life away from MLSE the career meat grinder. They’ll be something coming down the road and it won’t be a Laffs Stanley Cup parade.

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