Side Notes: Kyle Dubas after Pittsburgh could be back

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A week after assuring the media that he wouldn’t suddenly pop up elsewhere in the NHL if the Maple Leafs fired him, Kyle Dubas could be on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ radar.

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It was the team he was immediately associated with after calls for change grew louder in Toronto with a modest playoff elimination to Florida. The Penguins were in the process of replacing Brian Burke (another former Leaf manager) and Ron Hextall in their front office when Dubas said last Monday he would either stay in his place or accept his pink slip and take time out with him take family after what he called an emotionally difficult season.

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But his surprise sacking by club president Brendan Shanahan after Dubas hesitated over the terms of his extension raised questions about whether he would really turn down an offer to return directly to the game.

While Dubas has yet to speak publicly about his complicated exit — Shanahan shared his version with media on Friday — Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night that the Pens are likely to approach the Leafs for permission to work with Dubas to speak before his official contract expires on June 30.

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That has not yet been confirmed by Pittsburgh’s side. Led by David Beeston of Fenway Sports Group, that club was already in the process of reviewing frontrunners Dan MacKinnon (Senior Vice President of the Devils), Eric Tulsky (Assistant GM of the Hurricanes) and Steve Greeley (Scouting Director) and hockey strategy in Dallas) and Jason Karmanos (Buffalo’s assistant GM).

If Dubas intends to return somewhere quickly, it would be worth a call from Beeston to Shanahan for due diligence. Dubas has a degree of notoriety that has captivated fans in the Steel City unfamiliar with the other contestants, and conference rivalry would immediately ensue.

But should he even make it into the interview phase, Dubas would have to take back part of Monday’s emotional speech.

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Currently, Toronto and Pittsburgh have open GM positions, while Craig Conroy is the favorite to succeed Brad Treliving in Calgary. Treliving came to mind when Shanahan said the next Leaf GM must have “experience,” having hired Dubas at the age of 28 and Dubas’ subsequent appointments to hockey clerk positions have been mostly newcomers.

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis reports that the Flames won’t stand in the way of Treliving if he seeks a new job with Toronto, Pittsburgh or any other team before July 1, as long as he refrains from any involvement in the draft in Nashville on the 28th and 30th June 29th or similar keeps scouting discussions away.

Beyond July 1, the Leafs must decide which free agents to keep or drop, and target extensions for Auston Matthews and William Nylander if the latter is not traded to break up the Core Four, consisting of the two, plus Mitch Marner and John Tavares.

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The Leafs are no stranger to drafting with an ad hoc committee rather than a general manager.

In 2015, after firing GM Dave Nonis, Shanahan chaired a table attended by new junior managers Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brandon Pridham, amateur scouting director Dave Morrison and new coach Mike Babcock. The Leafs had an interesting choice to make fourth overall with top-rated defenseman Noah Hanifin available, but chose Marner.

A few days later, the group completed Phil Kessel’s trade with Pittsburgh, securing Kasperi Kapanen as the centerpiece of a player-and-picks deal. Lou Lamoriello was hired as GM on July 23 of the same year.


Speaking of Hunter, he and brother Dale were trying to extend their London Knights streak with the Peterborough Petes and were knocked out 3-2 before Game 6 in Peterborough on Sunday night… The One Leafs’ affiliate remains active, the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers are down behind the Florida Everblades 2-0 in their best-of-seven conference finals, Game 3 on Monday at Cape Coral/Fort Myers… Monday marks the birthday of George Patterson of Kingston, who scored the first goal in history in February 1927 the Leafs scored.


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