TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs had a plan. With fans in panic mode worried about life after Kyle Dubas, they held a press conference at noon Thursday to introduce the 18th general manager in franchise history, Brad Treliving.
The Dubas era was now in the rearview mirror. The future of the team will have been at the center of this press conference. Enough to take the attention off Dubas, who had learned 13 days earlier that the team was not going to retain his services after five seasons as GM of the Maple Leafs.
That’s what the team hoped, at least.
It was not the case.
At 11:31 a.m. ET, about 29 minutes before Treliving and Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan spoke to the media at Scotiabank Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins released a statement announcing the hiring of Dubas as president of operations. hockey.
Yes. This same Dubas. In the release, the team said Dubas and a few members of the Fenway Sports Group would hold their own press conference in Pittsburgh at 1 p.m., an hour after Treliving’s meeting with reporters.
READ ALSO: Dubas named president of hockey operations for Penguins
Is it a coincidence that it all happened on the same day? Was this an opportunity for Dubas and the Penguins to steal the show from his former team?
Shanahan quickly dismissed the idea, attempting to placate conspiracy theorists who believed the agenda was wrong.
« I don’t believe the timing was intentional, » he said. They must also get to work.
“I support Kyle, completely. »
Shanahan may not believe this potential intent. But it was certainly intriguing. In fact, it could almost have been scripted.
Going forward, the Maple Leafs and Penguins will be tied together by a common thread: Dubas.
So that certainly leaves room for a fascinating comparison of the two teams.
Dubas is one of the smartest young people in hockey. Under his leadership, the Maple Leafs went 221-109-42 in the regular season, but only won one series during that span, despite having several extremely talented players, like forwards. Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, William Nylander And John Tavaresthen the defender Morgan Rielly.
Dubas was in the final season of his contract in 2022-23. The Maple Leafs decided not to offer him a contract extension last summer.
According to Shanahan, the team decided to retain Dubas, even after the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the last spring tournament. He said the team presented him with a contract offer ahead of the May 15 report. But when Dubas spoke to the media that day, he lamented that the season had proven very difficult for his family members and added that he would consult with them to determine what to do next.
Dubas had mentioned that regardless of whether or not he returned to the Maple Leafs, « you won’t see me landing (in another market) next week. I can’t put this through [à ma famille] after the year we have just passed. »
He was right, he didn’t land anywhere else the following week. It will have taken almost two weeks (13 days, to be more precise). Decision that was taken jointly with his family.
In his new role, Dubas wields the power he coveted in Toronto. With Shanahan in office, he didn’t really have that option. And as soon as Shanahan received the counter offer from Dubas’ agent with revised financial terms, read here more money requested, Shanahan cut the umbilical cord.
You can not make that up. Worthy of a soap opera.
And the rest of the story is not to be missed.
Both teams are full of stars. But the game of comparisons stops here.
Treliving didn’t mention it explicitly, but he hinted that the Matthews-Marner-Nylander-Tavares quartet might remain intact. Everyone’s talent has something to do with this potential decision, but age is even more important. Matthews is 25 years old. Marner has 26. Nylander, 27. Their best years are ahead of them.
But the same cannot be said for the players Dubas inherits. Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin And Kris Letang will all be at least 36 years old at the start of the next season. However, the contributions of these future Hall of Famers cannot be questioned in the Penguins’ three most recent Stanley Cup titles.
Treviling’s hands are tied by the salary cap, as its core of four forwards sucks up more than $40 million. Dubas enjoys more flexibility. He will have twenty million dollars of maneuvering this summer.
Then comes the situation of the coaches. In Pittsburgh, Mike Sullivan led the team in 2016 and 2017, the years of the last two championships. According to Dubas, he can be a coach “forever”. Treliving was more nebulous about instructor Sheldon Keefe. He will try to learn more about him before deciding on his future. Keefe was Dubas’ man of confidence almost everywhere he went: the two men collaborated with the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), the Toronto Marlies (American League) and, of course, the Maple Leafs. Will he also become the man of Treliving?
So many stories to watch.
The table is set for the 2023-24 season and the next duels between the Treliving Maple Leafs and the Dubas Penguins will have to be circled in your calendar.