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PPP Roundtable: Our thoughts on the GM change

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What does it mean for the future of the team as well as the present?

Kyle Dubas in Orlando

This post has the news:

This roundtable has our opinions:

General Reactions

Hardev: The moment I heard the news I started laughing to myself. We knew this was going to happen. The team told us as much that this was going to happen. It’s just hilarious that no one believed them. Gotta love those “sources in the game.”

Nafio: And just so that we can be very clear here - I have no idea whether or not Dubas will be a competent GM (Katya’s recent article did make me think positively of him though) - but he’s the hottest / most adorable GM the Leafs have had in a while.

Achariya: I feel like Kyle Dubas has proven that he can use minors (ECHL) to properly fuel the lineup of his club (AHL), and use his club as a decent way to stock the Maple Leafs. He’s had this plan in action for years (I remember a long-ago interview with him in Orlando where he talked about using the different leagues like baseball minors), and he made sure it worked. It’s an interesting system that maxes out signed contracts, but the Maple Leafs can afford it. It’s kind of interesting that this news comes while the Toronto Marlies are still in the middle of their playoff run.

Nafio: I appreciate that the front office box will continue to have eye candy. Never get laser surgery, Kyle.

Fulemin: I like the move. But I think there’s a kind of mythology about Dubas that is now going to be tested--I liked Katya’s article for looking at what he actually did in the AHL--but I think the “Lou move/Dubas move” dichotomy was kind of absurd.

Achariya: I wonder how Dubas is going to handle running a team in a league that is no longer about development. If you’re in the NHL, that’s it.

I also wonder how different things are going to ultimately be for Dubas -- the Marlies and Leafs are on a continuum, so maybe it’s just a matter of moving his office down the hall.

Brigstew: Thought on Dubas:

1) DU
2) DU BAS
3) DU BAS MICH

Serious thoughts on Dubas:

He seemed to be effective at managing the Marlies and keeping them a successful team despite the Leafs constantly taking their best young players. He’s found some good diamonds in the rough with Moore, Marchment or Holl, though our Marlies specialists could probably speak to that better.

Seldo: It’s nice to see a General Manager who is certified in walking and talking, we don’t have much proof others went to school for that.

But seriously, though it’s nice to see a new name in a GM position as opposed to a retread of old NHL GM’s, even if this name has been around in hockey his entire life and is the epitome of the worn out ‘Hockey Man’ phrase. Dubas has worked hard in his career and though he had connections, you don’t get this far with the richest team in the NHL without having the work ethic, confidence, and portfolio to back the promotion up. Brendan Shanahan has been given the task of building the Maple Leafs to a model franchise, moving away from the muck and drudgery we had the past 13 years. He made a plan, hired Dubas as AGM and Lou as GM and said that if Kyle wasn’t ready after working for one of the longest serving GM’s in the NHL, it’s his own fault. Clearly, Shanahan is a man of his word and is following his plan to the letter.

What do I think of Dubas himself? He was an interesting GM to watch in the OHL, and I did get on the ‘Dubas to the Leafs’ wagon a season or two into his OHL time. Is he perfect? No, he’s a guy who runs a hockey team. He signed goons, he handles players off-ice misconducts just as well as any other hockey manager has in the past. He never won anything in the OHL, his Marlies have yet to capitalize on their regular season success. He’s not a perfect saviour but it’s an interesting move that we’ve all known has been coming. He builds teams that are fun to watch, and really, that’s all I want.

What about Mark Hunter?

Katya: This is a really interesting question that no one not named Mark Hunter can really answer. He’s had to have known this was the plan, as Hardev says, we all knew this was the plan. But what does he want out of life? To continue to help build the Leafs via the scouting and development departments? Or does he want to be an NHL GM. People often assume everyone wants the obvious vertical career path, but that’s not really how it works. He owns part of the London Knights. He’s not going to be unemployed. But maybe he’s looking at the Minnesota Wild job opening now, who knows.

Fulemin: I really wish I knew. But as Katya said, he’s the only one who can answer that. I’ve heard so much contradictory chatter about his personal ambitions that it all kind of cancels out. I have no idea.

Brigstew: I feel like the Leafs under Shanny have had a clear plan that they have followed to the letter. If Hunter was going to be a problem they would have known about it already and have a backup. I don't know if that means he stays or goes, but either way it won't be the end of the world.

Seldo: Now what about Mark Hunter? Well, what about him? My opinion is that he’s happy where he is. His OHL team is chugging along the gilded path to the bank as always. He’s running the scouting department for a very rich team who I would assume don’t hold back on resources, and hey if some of that information from the amateur scouts accidentally finds it’s way into the hands of the London Knights scouts, oops. There have been no indications from anywhere but people who need to fill airtime/columns will claim that he’s leaving because of Dubas. If Hunter wanted to GM another NHL team he’s had all the chances in the world but never jumped ship. To me, he’s happy to be running the richest scouting department in the NHL and the best (ugh) run team in the OHL and can easily do both while working with the Leafs as opposed to the Hurricanes or Avalanche or Panthers. If Mark Hunter leaves the Leafs over this, I’ll wear a Knights jersey to every IceDogs home game next season.

Who will take over the Marlies?

Achariya: [sarcasm font] Mark Hunter takes over the Marlies

Katya: I’ve been joking for a few weeks that Sheldon Keefe might be the next GM of the Marlies, and the truth is, I’m not joking. This comes under the heading of what does he want as a career path, but he was a GM in junior as well as a coach, and while his name gets bandied about as a potential NHL coach, that’s a tough gig to break into. It might be where he goes, but management might be in his plans too.

How do you feel about the widely-held opinion that Kyle Dubas can’t control Mike Babcock?

Nafio: Since when is it the GM’s job to control the coach?

If Babcock veers from the Shanaplan, Dubas and / or Shanahan can fire him. Granted the expensive contract makes that slightly less likely but never impossible.

Babcock had no problem sitting guys he didn’t want to play under Lou, I don’t see why this would be any different

Hardev: People don’t realize how capable and professional Dubas is. They’ll soon figure it out, but there’s no bone in my body that worries about a power struggle. Not even with Hunter

Fulemin: I think Dubas can and will control Mike Babcock in the sense that Dubas is ultimately going to make up his own mind about personnel decisions. Babcock DOES have unusual job security, but this stuff is overstated.

Brigstew: Do I think he can manage Babcock? As long as he’s being reasonable and a good job I think Shanahan will have his back. Dubas was scouted and hired by Shanny, I think Shanny likes him a lot and this while handling of him, the Colorado situation, and Lou’s departure kind of signal that. Shanny might not bark at Babs to follow Dubas line but he will manage the two of them. I’d also say if it was a legitimate worry this wouldn’t be happening, as Dubas and Babs have three years of some kind of working relationship. Babs does seem to like him some Marlies that Dubas has helped bring along no?

Katya: A Canadian Senator (the upper house kind, not the hockey kind) recently asked the female RCMP official presenting to the Senate on issues of sexual harassment how a lady could ever tell a man what to do. This idea that a hockey GM has to be so much more man than the coach is the same sort of idiocy. You manage by getting people to buy into your vision, to trust you to have their backs, and by having personal integrity. Sometimes you are assertive, aggressive even, but if you think you need to be physically dominating, you’ve lost the plot.

Mike Babcock stands at his post-practice press conferences with his arms braced on the podium so everyone can see the size of his forearms. His wrists are three times the size of mine. So far, I haven’t heard any reports of members of the press cowering in the corner and sobbing. So while I don’t recommend Dubas take up arm wrestling with the coach, I think he’ll be fine.

Is Kyle Dubas the numbers nerd, a little overstated? Or will he run rampant with his new power and make players wear their CF% as their jersey number? Related: Will Auston Matthews now grow a Laine beard?

Fulemin: I think Dubas might be slow to move away from the Lou rules, maybe surprisingly. I don’t like a lot of them but given Lou ran a tight and not-all-that-controversial ship in a controversy-hungry market, Dubas might be tempted to just let things keep going as they are and only relax things slowly and to a limited degree. So no Laine beard.

Dubas the numbers nerd is definitely overstated. It was always a narrative made possible mostly by how retrograde the hockey world is. The standard for being a number-crunching nerd is pretty low, considering Dubas has a very Hockey Man resume. That said, I will be interested to watch the little moves. Does Dubas start hiring those neato third-pair defencemen with high CF% that everyone falls in love with, or does he defer to Babcock’s influence in those to some extent (or go his own way--but if he signs Polak or someone like him, everyone’s gonna say he’s bowing to Babcock.)

Brigstew: Thoughts on Dubas changing Lou’s dress code: All Leafs will now be required to wear hipster glasses and cardigans. Even during games and practices.

Katya: I think the beard rule will go. But I don’t think the new rule will be anything goes. The thrust of my piece on Dubas on the Marlies was that he is either a very clever revolutionary who does things very gradually, or he’s really just a man who rides the crest of a wave. I’m not sure those things are different in impact in any meaningful way.

As far as the numbers go, well, the truth is that the Leafs have a counting house already. They have in-house systems of measurement and analysis that we know nothing about, never will know about until decades from now, and the real issue is how does the GM, Dubas, integrate that information into his decision making? Will it suddenly have more weight? Should it?

I would say: Beware jumping to conclusions. Everyone decided that when the Colorado Avalanche signed Patrick Wiercioch, their theorized stats department must be real. That proved to be a faulty assumption (and not a good signing).

Which Marlies players stock jumps higher on this news?

Jonathan Species: I’m sure he has a few personal favourites who now have a higher chance of making it to the Leafs roster. What about Garret Sparks? I have to think the chance Sparks makes it through at next year’s training camp and McBackup is waived has jumped up to 99 percent.

Katya: Mason Marchment, the poster boy for his three-tiered development program.

Brigstew: I was going to guess Mason Marchment too, so now I'll switch to Trevor Moore or Justin Holl.

Hardev: The correct answer is Justin Holl.


Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think about what will change and what won’t.