Do It Like Dubas
Replacing Lou Lamoriello, at 33, into the ol boy's club led by Shanny and Babcock is no easy task. However, Kyle Dubas is coming in hot for his managerial rookie campaign. Half way into the season, the Dubas' debut has already exceeded all expectations of his veteran counterparts.
I'd imagine most GMs would get their feet wet with the business when kicking off their first year of the career. Maybe a mid-major free-agent signing in the summer, a trade or two before his first trade deadline -- nothing too wild under Brendan and Babs' microscope.
But not Big Dick Dubas. He went out and executed the largest free-agent signing in history, bringing JT home on Canada Day, followed by Monday's trade, bringing in another bonafide Southern Ontario stud.
Don Cherry has been preaching this for years, primarily during our Brain Burke era. We have the best kids to choose from in our own backyard but continuously attempt to build something with an American core. Jason Blake, JVR, Phil Kessel, Mike Komisarek and Jake Gardiner to name a few. Although those were the darkest years of my life, I grew to love that group; especially Phil. However, I knew this group would only ever get a silver medal at best -- not a Stanley Cup. That wasn't going to cut it. We were already use to several gold medals that Canada has won, and the only type of silver hardware we could now accept was a Stanley Cup. Now we have a homegrown team, with the strongest chance for a cup run since 1967.
Kyle Dubas has addressed most of the Buds' needs in his short tenure here. Muzzin has been in trade talks for years, and apparently on Sunday, Duby walked away from a much pricier demand for Jacob. I don't know how much changed since then. But on Monday, Kyle walked back in that LA board room and said, "we aren't giving you Nylander or Kapanen." He then wrote his proposal on a napkin, slid it over, stuck his hand out immediately and forced Rob Blake into this one. I don't know if it's because of his young charm or because 99% of deals proposed on napkins are closed, but Duby has been doing the impossible.
Other than a first-rounder (which holds a lot of weight for some reason), the Buds essentially gave up nothing. As history shows, a first round pick outside the top 20 can go either way. In return, we are bringing in a big body for the blueline who can play a two-way game. In last week's column, I addressed two major flaws in defense -- no slapshots and no hits.
Muzzy is a Stanley Cup champion and plays like one. Kills penalties, kills opponents, moves the puck well, and has an absolute canon. But most importantly, we bump Ozhiganov off the roster. No team has ever won the Stanley Cup with two Ruskis on the back end, however, one Russian blueliner can become an integral part of a championship team. To name a few from recent history:
- Dimitri Orlov, 2018 Washington Capitals.
- Slava Voynov, 2014, 2012 LA Kings.
- Sergei Gonchar, 2009 Penguins.
This theory dates all the way back to the 99' Dallas Stars who won the Stanley Cup, led by Russian defensemen Sergei Zubov. By dropping Igor and limiting ourselves to one Ruski at the blueline like previous champions, we have bolstered our chances at a SC run significantly.
When Kyle was 25, he was brought in to manage the Soo. Greyhounds of the OHL. His captain was Jake, and fast forward six years later, Muzzin would go on to win a World Cup with Babs in 2016 (which I witnessed first-hand on a very major field assignment).
Dubas and Babcock are strongly familiar with who they're bringing in and plan to slot him in the top pair with Rielly. Naysayers are overly concerned about the Leafs having two left-handed defensemen on our first line, although this pair seems eerily similar to the top two we had in our golden years.
Duby has already done more than what Brad Pitt did in Moneyball and this was without the math. If a movie about baseball and math can score a 94% on the tomato meter and rake in 110 mill, then a movie with Kyle Dubas sliding napkins to every GM and closing major deals has box-office-hit written all over it.
Not sure what this managerial mastermind has planned next; no one does. But I wouldn't expect him to sit quiet until the Trade Deadline next month. I wouldn't even be surprised if he brings Anthony Davis to the Raptors through some cross-sport-management.