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Dubas named general manager of Maple Leafs

32-year-old 'more than ready' to assume role, Shanahan says

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Kyle Dubas was named general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, replacing Lou Lamoriello, who left the position April 30 to shift into a role as senior adviser.

Dubas, 32, becomes the second-youngest GM in the NHL; Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is 28.

Dubas was assistant general manager since being hired by Toronto on July 22, 2014.

"I think the three years here working with Lou Lamoriello are what gives me the confidence that we'll be able to continue to move this ahead in the structure and system that we have here today," Dubas said. "If it didn't feel right with the office staff, if it didn't feel right with the coaching staff, with our management team, I'm not the type of person to just rush in and do this because it's a GM job."

Among Dubas' duties as assistant GM was serving as general manager of the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. This season, they led the AHL with 54 wins and 112 points and have advanced to the Eastern Conference Final of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Marlies went 190-90-24 in Dubas' four seasons as GM and had five players on the Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup Playoff roster this season: forwards Connor Brown, Zach HymanKasperi Kapanen and William Nylander, and defenseman Travis Dermott.

Dubas also oversaw the Maple Leafs analytics department and was involved in player personnel and player development.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said he thought Dubas was the right fit for the job and did not make the move simply out of fear of losing Dubas to another organization. The Colorado Avalanche were interested in hiring Dubas for a personnel position last summer, but Toronto did not give them permission to speak with him.

"I was under no pressure from anyone to do this, I was under no obligation from anyone to do this," Shanahan said. "I just really felt in looking at Kyle that he was more than ready and that it was the right time.

"You make decisions when you're running a hockey team, or any business really, and you take in as much information as possible. I can just say everything that I knew and have learned told me this was the right time."

When Shanahan observed Dubas over the past four seasons, he became convinced he was capable of being the general manager.

"Certainly, as I got to see him evolve and grow here with the Maple Leafs, he was absolutely an option I didn't want to let go of," Shanahan said.

Shanahan said he was immediately impressed with Dubas after their first meeting in 2014, when Dubas was GM for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League. That led to the hiring of Dubas as Maple Leafs assistant GM and left Shanahan with the belief that one day he could climb further.

"I liked that he thought about the game in a lot of different ways," Shanahan said. "What struck me immediately is Kyle's easy navigation between somebody who really valued objective information but also had a great knowledge of every player in the game and was somebody, if you look at his background, who was a rink rat. 

"In the conversation we had, I thought he challenged some ideas well and he just struck me as somebody who had a lot of promise."

Dubas said he believes strongly in making sure players are comfortable in their surroundings; once that's the case, he said, on-ice success will follow.

"I believe that there needs to be an order and a structure," he said. "When it comes to the players' mental wellness, their character strength building, we as an organization need to be more progressive and push ourselves to find ways to help the players at their be at their best.

"If your character and mental wellness aren't right, how you perform, your technical skills, your understanding of the system, your strength and conditioning, those things are going to falter."

One aspect where Dubas feels his age will be a benefit to him is in his ability to connect with players.

"I think part of it is because of my age, I think the players are more apt to come in if they have an issue and have a discussion about it," he said. "I've always left my door open, I know everyone says they have an open-door policy, but I've tried to continue to cultivate that type of atmosphere."

The Maple Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Division this season and set Toronto records with 49 wins and 105 points before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round. Toronto has the No. 25 pick in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas on June 22-23.

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