The Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves at a crossroads as questions about general manager Kyle Dubas’ future remains unsettled. Following the end of the postseason, there was speculation that one of two things would happen. First, Dubas would either be fired; or, second, he would be offered a contract extension.
However, Dubas seemed to pull a card out of his sleeve that surprised everyone. During his end-of-season media presser, he hinted at the possibility of stepping away and taking some time off.
At first, I thought it was just if the Maple Leafs choose not to extend him; however, as I read or listen to how others interpret Dubas’ comments, it might also be that Dubas was pre-empting a Maple Leafs’ decision by announcing that he needed some time off to have a sit down with his family to discuss the future – either way the Maple Leafs decided.
Hockey Insider Darren Dreger Sees Dubas Comment as a Surprising
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger provided his own insights into what he believes is unfolding in this situation. According to Dreger, Brendan Shanahan, the president of the Maple Leafs, and the rest of the organization were surprised by Dubas’ comments. Now they are a bit caught in no-mans land and are eagerly awaiting a decision from Dubas about whether he’ll stay on with his old job or whether he’ll take some time off.
According to Dreger, Dubas has created a dilemma for the organization. If I understand Dreger’s thoughts correctly, it seems that the team was expecting Dubas just to continue to do his old job until whatever happened. Instead, Dubas told them to wait. He needed to talk with his wife and family.
The Dilemma Is that Someone Needs to Lead
The dilemma now lies in the fact that the Maple Leafs cannot afford to wait much longer. A number of crucial decisions have to be made. And these decisions are far from minor – they will shape the franchise’s future. They need a leader.
Obviously, the work of the management team has continued behind the scenes. But, the problem is that someone needs to step in to lead. And that someone seems to be Dubas. As a result, until Dubas’s future is settled, the organization is in a state of uncertainty.
Dubas’ Comments Were Unexpected
Dubas’ statement about the team potentially needing a reset or recalibration caught many by surprise. It was anticipated that he would simply express his desire to return to Toronto as the general manager, and then wait to see what the organization decided. Few expected him to share his belief that the team needed a different direction and that he was going to consult with his family FIRST about his future as a general manager.
Those who are familiar with the tough Toronto market have to understand that Dubas was probably deeply sincere when he acknowledged that the season had taken a toll on his family. It’s also fair, since the organization left him in limbo when they didn’t sign him to a contract extension, that he would respond in kind.
Furthermore, his response seems logical. As he’s facing a period of time when he’s facing an end to the job he’d held for several seasons now, perhaps the team can wait until he talks with his family. As he noted, he believes it would be unfair to commit to anything without considering their well-being.
What Needs to Be Done by July 1
The Maple Leafs face an important six weeks. The crucial decisions that need to be made before Canada Day include what to do with those key players on the roster whose no-move clauses come into effect on Canada Day. Without decisions about Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander and their contract, the organization cannot chart the new course Dubas hinted at. However, until Dubas’s situation is resolved, the team’s plans are on hold. Who has the power here?
Has the uncertainty about Dubas’s future sparked a sense of urgency within the organization? What will the organization’s leadership team do without having a general manager in place to guide them through this critical phase?
Is Dreger Saying that, Without Dubas, There is No Leadership?
Assuming the Maple Leafs have a talented management team, what role does Dubas play in leading the team through the challenges that lie ahead? It would seem the answer is that Dubas plays a large role.
According to Dreger, Dubas’ comments about needing time to make a decision is an unexpected turn of events and one that has huge implications for the Maple Leafs.
The Organization Might Simply Can Dubas, But …
So what to make of Dubas’ comments? There are several ways to see this unfolding.
Perhaps Dubas is just calling fair play and seeking a bit of a quid pro quo. He was made to wait, now he’s expecting similar behavior in return. That comes from a sense of confidence.
Or, perhaps Dubas is playing a bit of a game of chicken. Might there be a challenge to the Maple Leafs to show their cards? This, too, seems to come from a sense of confidence.
Or perhaps Dubas believes the organization is going to let him go and he wants to clean out his own desk before being walked from the building. This would seem to show a sense of defiance.
Finally, perhaps it is a simple and straight-up statement that he simply values his family more than he values the job as general manager for the Maple Leafs. Maybe it’s something that personal and the decision is his family’s – just as he stated. This would show a sense of where his true loyalty lies.
Whatever the Case, Dubas Has Made His Stand
In the coming days, we will all see how the organization and Dubas work together to reconcile the situation – if they do so. What has happened is that the power has shifted. Dubas is no longer simply a (maple) leaf waiting for the (organization’s) wind to blow him wherever it might.
Dubas seems to have weighed his options and determined the best course of action for himself and his family. Now the Maple Leafs are called to respond.
If Dreger is correct, the resolution of this question could shape the future of one of the NHL’s oldest franchises. Maybe it wasn’t only the Maple Leafs’ decision after all.
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