Deep breathes… it happened, we can’t go back. Just a few short weeks ago we were on top of the world and in front of us it came crashing down. Just like that, all the hope we had is completely dissipated and it’s now worse than ever. On top of that Kyle Dubas is officially gone.
So the Maple Leafs lost… again. Broke their 19 year streak of not making out of the first round. But for what? Do you feel better? Because as a Leafs fan, which I am at my core I haven’t felt more bleak about this team. This is going to be my therapy session, which is 100% needed, and hopefully some Leafs fan feels a little better after reading.
It was 3-0
That was embarrassing, remember the “We want Florida” chants? I sure do, and man do we look stupid now. After beating the Lightning in 6 games the Leafs faced off against the Florida Panthers. They then proceeded to lose three straight, go on their worst offensive drought in well over a decade, and dig themselves in a hole only four teams have ever gotten out of in the past. Well guess what, they didn’t, but thank goodness they didn’t get swept. They played a half decent game in game 4 to get a win before losing in overtime of game 5.
They looked awful, the entire series. At times David Kämpf was the best forward. I love Kämpf, but in no world can he be your best player in a playoff game. Especially when you have a team with supposed generational talents in Matthews and Marner. The team wasn’t remotely close to good enough, they honestly looked like they didn’t know there was a second round. We thought they made the jokes go away, but in fact it got so much worse. But we’re not really here to discuss the series, more can be read about that here. Carlo Magno did a great article discussing it.
Locker Clean Out
May 16th marked locker clean out day. Which is essentially one last opportunity for the media to speak to the team. Players were robotic as usual, but the day concluded with Kyle Dubas doing an availability. Oh boy, was it eventful. Kyle doesn’t usually speak to the media, and when he does it’s usually very reserved. This was anything but reserved. It’s a long watch for an availability, but I highly recommend sitting through from start to finish.
One thing we have to give him credit for, he hid nothing, wore his heart on his sleeve. All we ask is to know what the GM is actually thinking, Kyle actually gave that. But with that he left a lot of questions about his commitment, and it raised a lot of red flags for the Leafs organization. Dubas is right in saying being the General Manager for the Maple Leafs is a tough gig, and I can gurantee it was unimaginably difficult for him and his family. He has every right to have doubts if he wants to put his family through that. But from the Leafs perspective they also have a right to have concerns.
What his presser did was throw Leafs Nation into a frenzy, so many questions raised with no answers. He said he may not even want to come back, and he’s open to trading his core pieces. He hinted even head coach Sheldon Keefe’s job may not be secure going forward, and Sheldon has been his guy from the start. No matter what Toronto did going forward afterwards, things were due to change in Toronto.
On the 19th the news hit. The Toronto Maple Leafs announced they decided to part ways with Kyle Dubas. It was a sudden announcement, one that caught me off guard. I said on the last episode of Wrinkles in the Crease that resigning Dubas would be top priority for their offseason. But Kyle’s press conference changed everything and team president Brendan Shanahan made that very clear in his press conference that afternoon.
Well that’s one way to air out the dirty laundry isn’t it… Shanahan says Kyle was offered the extension. But after the his conference Shanahan and the Leafs organization had a lot of concerns, and ended up costing Kyle his job. He made it clear that he wanted to stay, and was straight up told no. MLSE who owns the Maple Leafs clearly aren’t happy, and Shanahan can’t commit to a GM who was questioning if he even wants to be here. I think the right decision was made, as much as it hurts. But I still have a lot of problems with how the situation was handled.
What went wrong?
Shanahan’s presser was rough, and now every eye in the hockey world is on the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I’m left with one question… why does Brendan Shanahan still have a job?
Kyle Dubas was his guy, and Shanahan put everything into Kyle and his plan. MLSE obviously isn’t happy with the results, so why is Brendan safe? What bothers me the most is who is going to take on that job now? The way Dubas was let go was extremely unprofessional with how much information Shanahan didn’t even hesitate to give. It’s also no secret that Shanahan is a very controlling president, who doesn’t give his general manager complete autonomy. The Maple Leafs organization has completely imploded, all of the core four have a question mark over them. Especially Matthews, who had a great relationship with Dubas and it’s a safe assumption he can’t be happy about this situation.
It’s a rough situation to step into as a new general manager. I’m not sure if anyone is going to be really excited to take on that role in Toronto now. So where do the Leafs go now?
I believe the Maple Leafs are going to look inwards for a replacement for Dubas. They were happy with the team that he built, and I don’t believe they’re looking for a GM that’s going to change the makeup of the team. It’s a weird situation to be looking for a new GM in, and like I said I don’t think many candidates are knocking on the door for the job now.
I believe Brandon Pridham is going to be the next general manager of the Maple Leafs. He was Kyle’s assistant for most of his tenure. Pridham also has a history working for the Central Registry for the NHL and was a large part of CBA negotiations in the past. Pridham also was integral to keeping the Leafs cap compliant in his time as assistant GM.
He most likely has a similar mentality to Kyle Dubas, but will have seen some of the faults of his philosophy. If he gets the position Leafs fans have reason to be excited to see what Pridham is capable of.
The roster side of things is a little different, and the next few weeks are going to be stressful ones. Matthews and Nylander are eligible for extensions on July 1st. If they aren’t willing to resign a serious conversation needs to be had about trading them. Also on July 1st Marner’s full no move clause kicks in, so if they want to make these big decisions they need to be made now.