Fancy that: Reactions to Toronto hiring Dubas
Many believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs hiring more stats-friendly hockey mind Kyle Dubas as an assistant GM signals a significant change of pace for an organization often described as staunchly anti-analytic. That’s certainly what fueled more than a few jokes on Twitter, at least:
[Eve of 2016 NHL Entry Draft]— Mike Halford (@MikeHalford604) July 22, 2014
Dubas: We want a player with grit, character and heart with the 3rd overall pick
OH NO THEY GOT TO HIM
Leafs hand Dubas a compass and a protractor: "OK, do your thing."— Jason Brough 🙁 (@SadClubCommish) July 22, 2014
Still, the biggest theme seems to be a willingness to hear new ideas and consider other outlooks from Dubas and the Maple Leafs organization overall:
Kyle Dubas and his staff drafted and developed players/systems based on metrics and maintaining puck possession. This is a really good hire.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) July 22, 2014
It’s that the Leafs are moving in a direction that’s not “the eye test” run by a group of blind men.— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) July 22, 2014
Maple Leafs executive Brendan Shanahan backed that much up during a press conference, including this quote transcribed by NHL.com:
“Kyle is a young executive that has made a strong name for himself in hockey with a progressive style, work ethic and maturation beyond his years,” Shanahan said. “He has a fresh approach that we feel will benefit our club for years to come.”
Actually, this is the real Shanahan money quote:
Could this front office change ruffle a few old-school feathers? Time will tell, yet it’s something that at least a few people are pondering.
Then again, to some, this move seems to bridge the gap between stats-minded and more “mainstream” approaches:
What Leafs liked about Kyle Dubas: He is rare combination of a hockey man and analytics proponent. He has been scout agent GM and he's young— Steve Simmons (@simmonssteve) July 22, 2014
Indeed, some of the excitement comes from the notion that he’s not “just a stats guy.” That’s something the 28-year-old executive points out himself.
Former colleague of Kyle Dubas told me this: "I don’t think it’s all about analytics like people have wanted to make it out to be today."— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) July 22, 2014
Point today is not that Dubas is just some number cruncher. He's not. The point is the Leafs have opened their minds – and that will help.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) July 22, 2014
Is it too much to read into the signing of David Booth as the first sign of Dubas’ influence? Probably, but for the many Maple Leafs fans who have been frustrated about this team’s direction, it wasn’t exactly a discouraging development, either.
Here’s the press conference with Dubas and Shanahan: