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Takeaways from the Dubas Interview

Earlier today, Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic interviewed Leafs GM Kyle Dubas at the GM meetings down in Florida. I’m not going to go over the entire thing because it’s a very well done interview by LeBrun, so feel free to check it out here. However, I’ll take a quick look at some of biggest points and takeaways on Dubas and the Leafs.

It isn’t just about analytics for Dubas

It’s been talked about before, but while Dubas has gotten the reputation of being a numbers guy, that could be far from the truth. Now, he certainly uses them a lot more than most, because it is important to look at all the data, and not outright ignore it like some poorly-run teams do. But, he doesn’t rely on just the numbers, he looks at it as a piece of the puzzle.

But in the end, as leaders of the organization, Shanny, myself and Sheldon, we’re trying to inspire these people to be at their best every day. And there’s no algorithm and there’s no computer program that can make you build an environment where you’re able to bring out the best in people. We’re not even close to there yet. But we recognize it and that’s really what we’re trying to create as an organization, is that environment and culture — which is a term that gets used for successful teams.

Dubas’ outlook on ‘character’ and ‘leadership’ is a refreshing one to the league. While most teams look at it as getting guys who win, Dubas looks at it as making sure everyone is feeling welcome and is happy. We’ve seen this on several instances, particularly with his response to the Rielly homophobic slur investigation last season, as well as when he stayed behind in New Jersey with Ilya Mikheyev when he had surgery.

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It’s nice to see because creating this kind of environment makes the people working in it want to work in it, and having a positive environment can lead to people having fun and being motivated. That’s not to say that Dubas won’t lay down the hammer when it’s needed (ie. the Matthews’ situation), but he’d rather lighten it up a bit as compared to the locked-lips Lou era.

There weren’t any good options at the deadline

Dubas got some heat for his lack of moves at the deadline in the wake of losing to their AHL teams Zamboni driver, but Dubas was focussed on the long term situation.

Not only that, but he also felt less inclined to make a move due to play of the young defensemen (Sandin, Liljegren, Dermott) stepping up. While the Muzzin injury hurt in hindsight, the play of these guys not only made it easier to not make a move for this season, but also with them being long term options. Suddenly next season, a blue line with Rielly, Muzzin, Dermott, and Sandin on the left side, and Holl, Liljegren, and Marincin (as well as Rielly, Dermott, or Sandin moving over) is a solid blue line for a potentially cap strapped team.

Also, it’s just hard to make those kind of moves during the season. It’s easier to make a move for a long term right shot option on the blue line at the draft when each team’s cap situation gets shaken up (and the announcement of the cap ceiling in 2020-21 could mean that the Leafs end up being potential players for Pietrangelo in free agency).

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Your mean words doth not phase Mr. Dubas

LeBrun also asked Dubas about the pressures of being the GM in Toronto, especially with everything that’s happened this season, from firing Babcock and taking on the heat of the team’s success or failure to the EBUG fiasco.

But frankly, it might be strange to say, but it’s one of the more enjoyable parts of the job for me, especially in our market there’s a lot of people that have been in media for a long time, they’ve seen a lot, and the fans are so passionate, if those people want to invest the time — even if it’s to be critical of me and what’s happening and how we were playing — I think the criticism was deserved. I don’t shy away from that or fear it in any way.

You hear that, random Twitter user with 3 followers? Kyle Dubas doesn’t care about your tweets that tag him with #FireDubas. In fact, he laughs at it (if he even sees it).

In all seriousness, it’s nice to know that Dubas isn’t afraid of the criticism and the heat of the Toronto media. Not only does it show that he doesn’t really care what you think, but there’s a sense of confidence that comes from it too, and if he lasts a long time in this league, it will make him a lot more respectable down the road.

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So, Kyle Dubas for president 2020.