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Maple Leafs’ Firing of Dusty Imoo a Lesson about the Use of Social Media

There are two lessons in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ hiring and firing of goalie coach Dusty Imoo. What are they? Will there be fallout?

First, there’s the news. Second, there’s the lesson.

The news is that Dusty Imoo, who had come to some fame around the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nation with his work with current Maple Leafs’ starting goalie Jack Campbell, was hired and almost immediately fired as a goalie coach for the Toronto Marlies.

Imoo is a 51-year-old former goalie and now goalie coach. As I noted, he’s perhaps best known for the positive impact he’s had on last-season’s record-breaking goalie Campbell. Obviously, that’s at least one reason he was hired earlier this week to work with the Marlies’ goalies.

Imoo, who’s a former WHL goalie who also played hockey in Japan, was Campbell’s minor-league instructor when Campbell was with the Los Angeles Kings. He helped Campbell re-discover his ability after the first-round draft pick struggled. It didn’t matter what he had done; instead, it mattered more what he had said and what he’d liked.

However, in the end, his talent for helping goalies wasn’t enough to save his new job. Almost as quickly as he was hired by the Maple Leafs’ organization, he was let go. The reason is that, when people actually looked at his life beyond his obvious talents working with NHL goalies, there was something too close to the surface that caused a reaction. In short, Imoo held many controversial viewpoints and wasn’t afraid to share them widely using social media.

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It’s One Thing to Be Conservative, It’s Another to “Like” Racist Views and Conspiracy Theories

When people actually fact-checked into Imoo’s social-media world, they found support for the worst of former US President’s Donald Trump’s unfounded U.S. government conspiracy theories and a broader support for inequality at a number of levels.

Imoo was also, according to reports, a vocal anti-vaccine(r). All that’s fine if you want a job with the Republican Party of the United States, but if you want a job within the Maple Leafs’ organization – well, those kinds of social media pronouncements just aren’t going to get you closer to a full-time job.

One thing that both Maple Leafs’ President Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas have supported is an atmosphere of inclusion and social justice within the Maple Leafs’ organization. As a result, the Maple Leafs have hired women to prominent positions in player development; and, they’ve supported multicultural action that includes a support for gay players in hockey and other sports. Imoo’s actions simply violated that culture and those policies.

Even Imoo’s strident anti-vaccine stance went against the team’s policy of stressing that those within the organization receive the COVID-19 vaccinations. Without these vaccinations, the team wouldn’t even be able to play. Nor could they have fans in the stands. In the bigger picture, it makes no sense to hold such viewpoints.

Imoo Even Supported – through Twitter “Likes” – the January 6 Riots on the US Capital City

Imoo apparently used Twitter – and the function to “like” something – quite regularly. For example, he “liked” (supported) those far-right January 6th rioters (like the Proud Boys) who overwhelmed the halls of government in Washington, D.C. He was also reported to be against human rights and equal opportunities in sport.

Enough was enough, and Shanahan fired him. It was a terse statement. “Dusty Imoo will not be joining the Toronto Marlies. We made a mistake not thoroughly following our organizational protocols when considering this candidate for the position.”

A Lesson to Those Who Use Social Media

The problem is less that Imoo held controversial opinions. I suppose people are able to hold these opinions; however, that fact that he was so vocal and open about them is a lesson to those who believe they should be able to share such views widely with others. I’m not sure that the Maple Leafs’ organization can or would mandate a particular belief system; but, at the same time, employees simply are unwise to go against organizational policy so blatantly.

That’s what Imoo did; and, that’s why he’s no longer with the organization. By the way, Imoo’s Twitter account is no longer active.

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Might New Hire Ryan Hardy Be in Trouble?

Given the organization’s new hiring, it’s pretty likely the person who made the call to hire Imoo was the organization’s new director of minor hockey operations Ryan Hardy. Perhaps he wasn’t clearly aware of the team’s “full-vetting” policy, which is what Shanahan noted.

Let’s hope that’s all there is to it. It will be interesting to see if there’s any organizational fallout for these recent actions. Regardless, it doesn’t look good to the public that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.



  1. getrdone

    August 12, 2021 at 9:32 am

    As an old(and I stress the old) hockey fan this does have a bad taste to it Old Prof. Not so much for that the team does not like his ultra right leaning, but more to the fact that we are being judged in Social Media where a person can post and no need for identification. Where the underground(stay at mom’s basement) social media posts can stain a person for life. This is akin to bullying in social media.

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