Toronto Maple Leafs: Why the Dubas-Keefe Duo Will Win a Cup

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 8: Toronto Maple Leafs' Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas announced today that Sheldon Keefe has been named head coach of the Toronto Marlies. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 8: Toronto Maple Leafs' Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas announced today that Sheldon Keefe has been named head coach of the Toronto Marlies. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have both a young G.M. and head coach but that’s not going to stop them from lifting the Stanley Cup soon.

Why in the world would anyone count out the duo of Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The fact that this duo has been able to be together from the OHL, AHL and NHL for roughly the past eight years is incredible when you think about it. That’s like working the cashier at McDonalds with your best friend then all of a sudden a few years later you’re the President and they’re the Chief Executive Officer.

It’s an incredible bond and the reason why they’ve been able to continue to grow together is because they win together. G.M. Kyle Dubas has ultimately brought head coach Sheldon Keefe with him every step of the way and it’s worked. Although the two never won a championship with the Soo Greyhounds, they were incredibly successful together.

Toronto Maple Leafs G.M and Coach

Dubas took one of the most struggling teams in the OHL and reconstructed it into a winner. With coaching help from Keefe, the team made the playoffs every season, ultimately losing in the Conference Finals in Keefe’s last season. The team also had a great run losing in the OHL Finals in the 2017-18 season, which you could say was because of the foundation that both individuals built over their time.

After taking a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs as the assistant G.M. and G.M. of the Toronto Marlies, Dubas immediately hired his old-bench boss in the Soo and success happened quickly. You could argue that the 2015-16 Marlies team was their most talented roster, but the team ultimately fell short in the Conference Finals.

However, Keefe then took a rebuilding Marlies team to the Second Round of the playoffs one year later, prior to getting another crack at the Calder Cup championship with a veteran team in the 2017-18 season. After the duo came so close in year’s prior, their hard work finally paid off as they won the Calder Cup, bringing Toronto it’s first professional hockey championship since 1967.

With so much praise at the Marlies position, Keefe was going to get a head coaching job in the NHL somewhere, but luckily Dubas promoted him to the bench-boss of the Toronto Maple Leafs. So why wouldn’t we count out this duo that’s been so successful everywhere else to do the same at the NHL level?

In a small sample-size, Keefe has been nothing but brilliant, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 0.628 winning percentage. Obviously the dynamic between Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock were troublesome from the start because Babcock wasn’t playing the players that Dubas signed properly. For example, he wasn’t getting the same results out of Tyson Barrie and Jason Spezza that Keefe ultimately got out of them.

I think the relationship matters when it comes to the head coach trusting the general manager and vice versa. If they have the same vision, they’ll be successful and clearly they’ve already proved that everywhere else they’ve been.

You need your head coach to utilize the players that the G.M. acquires a certain way that individual thinks they should play or it doesn’t work. If Dubas has a vision for a player like Joe Thornton for example, Keefe should play him in that situation to get the most out of him.

I know there has been criticism on Dubas, but he’s the G.M. of the Toronto Maple Leafs for goodness sakes. If there wasn’t any negative words towards him, I’d be worried for the fan-base. 2020-21 will be the first full season of Dubas’ team with his own coach, so his tenure starts now.

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They’ve done nothing but win before, so I’m optimistic that the winning streak will continue with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.