It wasn’t clear that Kyle Dubas would be interested and it felt in many ways like the Pittsburgh Penguins have traveled too far down the road in their quest to find a new general manager, but reports on Saturday suggest that the Penguins will, in fact, seek permission to speak with Dubas about their open GM position.
After being told his contract wasn’t going to be extended, Dubas was suddenly out as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs following nine fairly productive seasons. The playoff success wasn’t there, but the Maple Leafs were looking to keep Dubas on board, that is until he held a press conference stating he wasn’t sure he wanted to return.
Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan got cold feet about signing Dubas to another five-year deal and quickly shifted gears with Dubas out, Jason Spezza resigned and head coach Sheldon Keefe seems to be on borrowed time. Meanwhile, the Penguins are seeking a GM after they fired Ron Hextall on April 14.
Dubas said in his presser, “I definitely don’t have it in me to go anywhere else.” He added, “It’s either here or it’ll be taking time to recalibrate and reflect on the seasons here. But you won’t see me next week pop up elsewhere. I can’t put (my family) through that after this year.” The Penguins are hoping he changes his mind after how things abruptly ended in Toronto and after the picture was painted by Shanahan that Dubas isn’t motivated.
Elliotte Friedman noted during Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast that it is expected that the Penguins will reach out to Dubas and noted, “Pittsburgh is deep in their search and there was a chance we could know next week, at the very least I think they’re going to reach out and ask and see, gauge what his interest is.” He adds, “I don’t know what the answer to that question is but I do think the Penguins are at least going to reach out to get permission to talk to him to see where he is.”
As has been reported, the Penguins have already interviewed a number of candidates. For all we know, an announcement was forthcoming. But, the team understandably wants a chance to speak with Dubas, arguably the hottest commodity on the open market for managers. He may still decide he’s not ready and what he says may not change the Penguins’ minds if they’ve been made up, but it can’t hurt to talk to the Leafs’ former GM and get a sense of what he’s thinking.
One of the things the Penguins wanted to find in a GM was someone who had a strong background in analytics. Dubas certainly checks that box. He’s worked with big-name stars, he’s clearly got a loyal following and he’s got a way about him that will change a culture in Pittsburgh that absolutely needs changing.
Will this conversation turn into anything? Who knows. If it does, we’ll know rather quickly. And, if Shanahan declines Pittsburgh’s request to speak to Dubas, we’ll know that the hurt feelings some believe Shanahan suffered thanks to Dubas’ press conference has turned into bitterness.
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