How do the NHL’s GM and coach firings affect the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Jon Steitzer
10 months ago
It’s time for everyone’s favourite question, “How does it affect the Leafs?” As the playoffs start, this is certainly not something that isn’t something that is an overly pressing issue as the band is going to remain together for the postseason, but it is something that might come at us pretty fast shortly after the Leafs lift the cup. (See I can be optimistic too sometimes.)
So far we’ve seen coach firings or mutual agreements to part ways in Anaheim, Columbus, and Washington. We have GM vacancies in Calgary, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. And it seems entirely possible that more are on their way as Calgary is a team to keep an eye on at the head coach position as well, I wouldn’t rule out Winnipeg wanting things shaken up as well if they exit in the first round, and with things not going particularly good for the Blue Jackets they could part ways with their GM. The NHL is always good for a surprise or two, and I guess maybe that could be the Leafs for all we know, but at the very least we know there is some interest in Toronto personnel as replacement candidates.
A couple of weeks back, Emily Kaplan of ESPN listed Spencer Carbery as a sought after Head Coaching candidate, and Laurance Gilman and Ryan Hardy as potential in demand GM candidates, albeit with Hardy viewed as a further down the road type option. We are already seeing some strong linkage to Carbery returning to the Washington organization.
In a lot of ways Carbery to Washington is fairly obvious. As the team starts to tinker with a youth movement or rebuild it makes sense to bring back a guy who is very familiar with a lot of the Hershey Bears personnel. At the same time, he’s very familiar with the systems that worked best in the organization from a few years back when they were still riding high, and with his power play success, Spencer will likely be able to help Ovechkin hit his goal record as well. As long as Brian MacLellan remains the GM of the Capitals it looks like it will be Spencer Carbery’s job save for a surprise candidate emerging. The NHL likes to go with what they know, and the Capitals know Carbery and the fact that he’s got a lot of success attached to him puts him over the top.
On the Gilman and Hardy front things are far more quiet. The Penguins have expressed an interest in forward thinking GM candidates and that could easily include Hardy as someone worth interviewing, while the Flyers tend to lean towards established hockey men as much as possible and Gilman has been around the NHL for a long time. With those being the two known vacancies, I would maybe connect the dots to the teams being interested but neither candidate is necessarily a front runner.
Of course, the Leafs do potentially have a front runner candidate in their organization and that is Kyle Dubas.
Myself, I’ve stated numerous times that playoff results be damned, Kyle Dubas should be brought back as the Leafs GM. From an outsider’s perspective, he’s delivered on what should be asked of a GM and that is to provide the organization with the best possible personnel both on the ice and throughout the Hockey Ops department.
Dubas’s contract situation has been an interesting one for a while and Frank Seravalli is now hinting at it potentially being relationship/decision making autonomy issues between Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas that could lead to the Leafs moving on from their GM. Further to that point, Chris Johnston recently stated that there has to be a little bit of tension when a contract extension wasn’t offered to Dubas over the summer but acknowledging that winning can fix a lot of things.
In contrast, Elliotte Friedman recently predicted Kyle Dubas would likely return to Toronto, so all we know for certain is that the contract situation has predictably become a distraction.
So why the Dubas situation matters is that the Penguins have all but rented a billboard across from the MLSE offices saying “Join the Penguins, Kyle” and with the fact that the Penguins cleared room both at the President of Hockey Ops and GM position, there is the potential for a lot more autonomy there if he’s interested. It’s also about to be a few interesting years of turning over the team while giving lipservice to their cup winning days in the process, but autonomy is a big deal.
It’s also clear to see how Philadelphia could be an option as they, like Pittsburgh, have deep pockets, and can offer Dubas a bit more control. They are further along in the rebuilding process which can be a big help and it would likely come down to Dubas being allowed to bring in his own coach.
Calgary, I just don’t see, so I guess that means if Kyle Dubas hits the job market that’s where he goes.
Ultimately, I think Friedman is right that predictably Kyle Dubas will be back and honestly some healthy tension between Dubas and Shanahan is what you want to see as they should be pushing each other to make the Leafs better. That said, if Dubas does leave I would imagine that Brendan Shanahan would have a promotion ready for Laurance Gilman within seconds of the decision.
While Dubas moving on seems unlikely, the Carbery situation seems destined to happen and with options like Mike van Ryn already emerging as potentially worthwhile Assistant Coach options, I’m sure Toronto will keep on truckin’ and benefiting from bringing in new people behind the bench. Like Dubas, Gilman and Hardy are far less likely, but we still have some time before we know the offseason pulse in Toronto.

Check out these posts...