The Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent elimination from the playoffs has not only left fans disappointed but the drama between President and the former GM has shined an extremely public and bright spotlight on the internal dynamics of the team’s front office. Reports have emerged detailing the strained relationship between Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas, with news leaking that each individual had conflicting visions and differing approaches to how the team should be run and what transactions should have been made over the past five seasons of Dubas’ tenure. Their failure to see eye to eye reportedly affected deals and personnel decisions and, subsequently, led to a lack of playoff success.
Differing Visions and Blocked Transactions by Shanahan
As per an article from James Mirtle of The Athletic, according to multiple sources close to the team, it appears that Shanahan and Dubas have been at odds for some time. At the top of the mountain sat Shanahan who closely watched what Dubas was doing and swayed much of what his GM was trying to accomplish. As President of the organization, he was clearly going to win out in the power struggle that existed and Mirtle notes he blocked transactions proposed by Dubas during crucial moments over the past few seasons.
His interference created frustration within the management group, and Elliotte Friedman noted on Saturday night that Dubas actually held an executive-only meeting on Wednesday that included a conversation about streamlining the processes of getting things done. Friedman notes that this wasn’t to insinuate that Dubas was trying to remove Shanahan from the equation, but Dubas wanted less red tape when it came to key decisions. That’s understandable considering Shanahan had sometimes imposed his own preferred moves on Dubas, leading to disagreements and a clash of ideologies.
Shanahan’s Influence and Dubas’ Emotional Press Conference
Given Shanahan’s position in the organizational hierarchy, the reported chaotic atmosphere weighed on Dubas throughout the season and going into his press conference at the end of the year. When he finally spoke with the media, Dubas delivered an emotionally charged response to a question about whether he wanted to be back and in no uncertain terms, he was non-committal.
Shanahan was greatly troubled by Dubas’ unexpected press conference and felt his GM had gone off script. Shanahan had apparently been advocating for Dubas to the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment’s board, working hard to convince them that he was their guy, even though many had doubts. Shanahan secured a five-year extension for his GM after the board required waiting until Dubas’ initial contract was completed, but throughout, their relationship remained strained.
People Behind the Scenes Took Sides
As tensions mounted between Shanahan and Dubas, factions began to form within the organization. Jason Spezza immediately resigned and some individuals aligned with Dubas are reportedly preparing to leave, following Spezza’s lead. That said, others are hopeful of climbing the ladder as the power structure changes.
Things in the front office are chaotic and with time not on Shanahan’s side, what happens next is anyone’s guess. Where will players like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner land in all of this? Who will be hired to determine the fate of three of the biggest stars in franchise history? And, will Dubas pick himself up, take a job elsewhere and shove it down the throats of the Leafs’ organization? With full autonomy to make decisions elsewhere, who knows what one of the most successful GMs in recent Maple Leafs’ history can accomplish?
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