The Maple Leafs appear to have gotten cold feet over the possibility of losing assistant GM Kyle Dubas.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said Friday morning that the Maple Leafs have rescinded their decision to let Dubas interview for a job with the Colorado Avalanche (presumably for GM, although Joe Sakic currently holds that title) only three days after reportedly green-lighting the process.
“I believe the window is closed. I don’t think he’ll be going,” Friedman told Calgary’s Sportsnet 960. “And I believe that Toronto closed the window. That initially they were willing to let him go, and then they weren’t. And so I think that’s kind of where it stands here.”
This is an odd twist for several reasons.
For starters, it was surprising to see Toronto grant permission in the first place. Since joining the organization in 2014, it has been presumed that Dubas was being groomed to be the next GM of the Leafs once Lou Lamoriello decides to step aside (his contract expires in 2019). Lamoriello essentially said so himself.
But it didn’t take long for that narrative to change.
Toronto’s decision to promote Mark Hunter to assistant GM last summer caused many to question whether Dubas had been surpassed in the hierarchy by his more experienced counterpart, and Friedman’s report on Tuesday appeared to confirm those theories. But now it’s not so clear.
More from Friedman, via Fanrag
“It’s an interesting situation. There was some pushback from Colorado at the beginning in saying that it wasn’t accurate and it didn’t happen. And I think that it’s possible that there were people in Colorado who didn’t know that it had happened.
“But there was definitely contact. There was permission given. And for whatever reason – and only Toronto knows, and you’ve got a better chance of getting the nuclear codes than probably this information out of Toronto – but I think Toronto revoked permission and I don’t think he’s going.”
This isn’t the first time the 31-year-old whiz kid has been courted by an NHL team, and it won’t be the last. The Coyotes expressed interest in Dubas last April before ultimately hiring the even greener John Chayka.
Dubas, the former GM of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds, has been a key figure in Toronto’s progressive regime under Brendan Shanahan, putting in place a first-rate analytics team while also running the Toronto Marlies. His impact has been noticeable, if not hard to quantify.
After another disastrous season, it seems inevitable the Avalanche will undergo a significant philosophical shift this offseason — reaching out to Dubas certainly signifies that. For Dubas, taking over a bad team with a number of good pieces to play with and another high draft pick must be attractive, but so is a future in Toronto with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and co.
A year ago Dubas said he wasn’t ready to become an NHL general manager, but at least for now, it appears the Maple Leafs aren’t ready to let that happen elsewhere.
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