If the Toronto Maple Leafs lose in the First Round again, will both Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas get fired?
Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs just broke their franchise record for single-season wins, if this team doesn’t perform in the playoffs, it could be the end of the Kyle Dubas Era.
That seems crazy to say because ever since Dubas took over as General Manager, this team has been nothing short of perfect. In my opinion, a GM shouldn’t be graded until their third season on the job.
Why, you ask?
Well, you need time to craft your own team and put all the pieces you want together. For example, when Dubas was hired, Mike Babcock was still the head coach of this team and he couldn’t exactly fire him on day one, especially when he had previously signed an eight-year deal worth $5.875M per season.
Although Babcock was a former Gold Medal and Stanley Cup winning coach, he wasn’t the right fit for this club anymore and Dubas recognized that early. However, he needed to wait a year and a half before firing him.
After firing Babcock, Dubas hired the man he wanted for the job all along: Sheldon Keefe.
The two of them had success together in the Ontario Hockey League and then continued that journey winning a Calder Cup together with the Toronto Marlies. Dubas clearly saw something in Keefe and knew he’d be the right fit for the Leafs head coaching position.
Could This Be the End of the Kyle Dubas Era for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Since joining the Leafs, Keefe became the fastest coach to 100 wins in team history and has a 112-49-18 record. That’s an incredible winning percentage for a rookie head coach, but it’s no surprise, since he’s won everywhere else he’s coached.
Over the past few seasons as GM, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been a very good regular season team. Dubas has continued to find diamonds in the rough with David Kampf, Ondrej Kase, Michael Bunting, Ilya Lubushkin and even lured hometown kid John Tavares back to Toronto.
The biggest issue though with everything is that this team hasn’t had any playoff success.
Personally, I couldn’t care less if they Leafs had won their first round match-up every year for the past six. If you don’t win the Stanley Cup, it’s not a successful season.
I don’t think there’s this magical path where you win one round, then win two, win the Conference Finals and then all of a sudden win the Stanley Cup. Just look at the Washington Capitals. They never made it out of the second round for the first 13 years of Alex Ovechkin’s career and then finally they broke out and won a Stanley Cup.
They didn’t need previous Conference Finals or Stanley Cup experience to win a championship. They just finally made it through and won the thing!
If the Leafs don’t win a playoff series again, the fanbase is going to lose their minds and are going to be after Dubas and Keefe’s job. I can understand that narrative because it’s very frustrating and you can’t fire all the players, but I think that’s a terrible approach.
Keefe and Dubas are clearly a winning combination, so you need to trust the process, even if they don’t win in the playoffs this year. One of these years, this dynamic duo is going to get the job done.
Who knows? It could even be this year.