Toronto Maple Leafs: Kyle Dubas Will Come Out of This a Legend

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently at one of the lowest points of their (mostly) sorry existence.

If you look around and take stock of Leafs Nation – be that friends, family, twitter, media personalities etc – I don’t think the collective mood of the team’s supporters has ever been this sour or this negative.

Kyle Dubas, Brendan Shanahan et. al. are taking the collective brunt of 50 + years of failure, a series of unlikely collapses, and a pandemic that has given people way too much time to think about the Maple Leafs.

But the irony of the entire this situation is that the Leafs are in the best situation the franchise has ever been in.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas

Kyle Dubas took over a team that had made some major errors that he had to spend time correcting (specifically, the Marleau and Zaitsev contracts).  Then, two of his first three seasons were sabotaged by a pandemic and a flat salary cap.

Still, his team just about won the President’s Trophy and it took an incredible amount of bad luck to force them from the playoffs.  The team has money to spend and is about to embark on the prime years of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

No other franchise in the league is in better shape.  Tampa is a great team and the Leafs one day hope to emulate their success, but they are a good five+ years ahead of the Leafs in the team-building process.

Dubas is taking the heat for a lot of frustrations his team’s fans have that have nothing to do with him.  However, this is just temporary.  He is going to emerge as the best executive in Toronto Maple Leafs history, and he’s going to go down as a legend.

 The Leafs are currently in a classic Results vs Trust the Process  Situation.

Throw out the first three playoff series this team had with this core.  Those were learning seasons by rookie-filled teams. The losses sucked, but they aren’t significant of anything today except for the experience they imparted.   The only 2 teams in the NHL better than the Leafs right now are Colorado and Tampa – two teams that combined to miss the playoffs in 8 of 11 seasons that featured the first five years of Nathan MacKinnon and Steve Stamkos career.

The last two series were bad. The Leafs should have won both of them, but they got unlucky. The Leafs have a positive expected goals rating in 11 of their last 12 playoff games.  Teams get goalied – it happens.

The point is that the Leafs played in such a way that they would normally have won both series.  They didn’t but this is a lot better than if they  got blown up or beaten up.

If you have a team that should have won but didn’t, if you have a team that almost won by getting no contribution by their three best players, and if you have a team with seven stars on it (eight if Campbell holds up) you are in a good position.

Right now, everyone is down about the Leafs, but the thing is, all the things they are down about were flukes and are unlikely to reoccur.  The Leafs were one of the top two or three teams in the NHL when the regular season ended. A fluke loss to a team they outscored, outplayed, dominated, and embarrassed over 17 games doesn’t change that.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the victims of a results-based industry that has really no idea how to evaluate a team that got very unlucky.  Kyle Dubas’ reputation is at an all time low, but the team is going to be rewarded greatly for sticking with him.  He is going to end up a legend in this town, and the Toronto Maple Leafs – today – are, at worst, the NHL’s second best team.

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I fully expect them to win the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup next year.