Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendon Shanahan said Kyle Dubas was dismissed May 19 from the general manager’s post after the team failed to get into the NHL’s Eastern finals.
The Leafs decided not to renew Dubas’ contract, he said.
The decision, announced in a statement, was made ahead of Dubas’ contract expiration date on June 30.
“I would like to thank Kyle for his unwavering dedication over these last nine seasons with the organization, including his last five as General Manager,” Shanahan said. “Kyle fostered a great culture within our dressing room and staff, and consistently pushed to make our team better season over season.”
Dubas joined the Leafs as a 28-year-old assistant general manager to then-GM Dave Nonis in 2014.
During his time as assistant GM, Dubas had various roles including managing the club’s player development department and farm system.
He served four seasons as GM of the Leafs’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, where he led the team to victory in the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs.
The team also secured both the 2016 and 2018 Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as AHL regular season champion. The Marlies’ record during his time as GM was 190-90-20-4.
Prior to his time with the Marlies, Dubas served as GM for the Soo Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2011 through 2014. It was at the age of 25 where he became the second youngest GM in OHL history.
Dubas’ time with the Greyhounds resulted in 14 players drafted to the National Hockey League (NHL). His teams finished with an overall record of 109-76-7-12.
Dubas grew emotional when speaking about his future as GM during the Leafs’ exit media conference on May 15, after not advancing to the second round of the 2023 season playoffs.
“I definitely don’t have it in me to go anywhere else,” he said. “It’ll either be here or taking time to recalibrate and reflect on the seasons here.”
Dubas spoke about the impact this season had on his young family. He said that his steps forward, with or without the Leafs, will involve serious consideration of his family.
“For me to commit to anything without having a fuller understanding of what this year took on them is probably unfair for me to answer where I’m at,” Dubas said.
Shanahan told reporters he understood the toll the industry takes on a member’s family, but that it comes with the territory.
“This was hard on his family, it was hard on all our families,” he said. “But it’s the job we choose, it’s the sport we choose.”
Shanahan said talks of Dubas’ future with the Leafs after his contract expiration came as early as last year’s offseason. Both him and Dubas’ agent would spend the following season vacillating if there was a place for him as a GM for the Leafs after the 2023 season.
Although it seemed that Dubas, his agent and Shanahan were roughly on the same page near the end of the Leafs’ playoff season, moods shifted after Dubas’ playoff exit media conference, where he spoke on the precarity of his future with the Leafs.
Shanahan said the search for a new GM began as early as that same Sunday as the media conference.
“The long-term future of the Maple Leafs might have to change,” he said.
The Leafs will soon begin negotiations with Austin Matthews and William Nylander, who become UFAs in 2023. The team also has a number of players who will be UFAs and Ilya Samsonov who becomes a restricted free agent.
Also questionable is the status of head coach Sheldon Keefe who has been tied to Dubas since their Soo Greyhound days. Keefe was also the coach of the Marlies when they won the Calder Cup.
As early as the search began for a new GM, Shanahan reassured that urgency won’t outdo thoroughness.
“There’s an urgency to do that,” he said. “I don’t think it needs to be rushed, I want to be very thoughtful and thorough.”
Shanahan said although Leafs’ staff felt “wounded” by the change, he said Dubas was a man he appreciated having by his side during his tenure.
“He’s been a fantastic employee and a fantastic person this entire time,” Shanahan said.