NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2023
The Golden Knights beat the Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, reaction to the Leafs firing GM Kyle Dubas, Clayton Keller’s agents meet with Coyotes management and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS DRAW FIRST BLOOD IN WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Dallas Stars 4-3 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on an overtime goal by Brett Howden. William Karlsson scored two goals, Zack Whitecloud collected two assists and Adin Hill made 33 saves for the Golden Knights. Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists, Jason Robertson a goal and an assist and Jake Oettinger stopped 33 shots for the Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game with plenty of scoring chances, some big saves and a good overall pace. Four of the six goals in regulation were scored in the third period when the Golden Knights would take the lead but the Stars rallied back twice to tie it.
Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa missed this game, perhaps due to a nagging lower-body injury. Colin Miller took his place.
Game 2 goes Sunday in Las Vegas at 3 pm ET.
LEAFS FIRE DUBAS, MARLIES COACHING STAFF SACK, SPEZZA RESIGNS.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Friday that they had “parted ways” with general manager Kyle Dubas.
DAILY FACEOFF: In a subsequent press conference, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan spoke candidly of the reasons behind the decision. He revealed that a framework for a contract extension was presented to Dubas prior to the latter’s emotional press conference on Monday where he voiced his uncertainty about returning to the job.
Shanahan explained the Leafs front office was caught off guard by Dubas’ remarks and started to rethink management’s plans. A meeting with Dubas on Wednesday, Shanahan said, left the latter with more questions than answers.
The Leafs president indicated that Dubas presented a new financial package for a contract extension on Thursday. By that point, however, Shanahan had felt differently about the club’s future with Dubas. On Friday, he drove to Dubas’ office and told him that he was fired.
Shanahan indicated that he’ll be open-minded when it comes to Dubas’ replacement. However, he will put an emphasis on experience.
TORONTO SUN: Prior to Shanahan’s press conference on Friday, Jason Spezza tendered his resignation as special assistant to the general manager. Spezza had been in the role for one season following his retirement as a player.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Marlies (the Leafs AHL affiliate) announced the contracts of coaches Greg Moore, A.J. MacLean and John Snowden would not be renewed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After several seasons, the soap opera “As The Leafs Turn” has returned. This was a major front-office bloodletting that will have significant short- and long-term ramifications for the Maple Leafs.
This news made a number of Leafs followers nervous that the club could be returning to the front-office dysfunction of the recent past. Some have drawn comparisons to the dark days of team owner Harold Ballard. Those folks are overreacting or weren’t old enough to remember how horrible the Ballard years were. Nevertheless, the concerns over the front office are understandable.
Dubas’ firing gives the Leafs little time to find a suitable replacement before the NHL draft (June 28-29) and the opening of contract extension talks (July 1) with Auston Matthews and William Nylander, who are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
The new general manager must also find a way to address the club’s roster needs with limited salary-cap space. That includes deciding whether to shake up the roster by trading one of their core players. They must also decide if head coach Sheldon Keefe and his coaching staff will remain or be replaced.
Buckle up, Leafs fans, you’re in for what could be a very interesting summer.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Clayton Keller’s agents met with the Arizona Coyotes met with the club’s front office to discuss the team’s future. There was no trade request made by the 24-year-old winger’s representatives to seek clarity about the Coyotes’ direction after its Tempe arena proposal was rejected by a public referendum.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tying the franchise single-season record of 86 points, Keller is the Coyotes’ best player. He’s signed through 2026-27 and is a vital part of their current rebuilding program. The fact that he’s wondering about the club’s future should be a concern for the front office. If he’s not happy with their direction he could follow the example of former teammate Jakob Chychrun and request a trade.
NEW YORK POST: Connecticut governor Ned Lamont said he’s reached out to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for a meeting to discuss moving the Coyotes to Hartford, the former home of the Whalers before their relocation in 1997 to Carolina.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be nice to see the NHL return full-time to Hartford. However, if the Coyotes relocate they’ll likely end up in a big Western market such as Houston or Salt Lake City.
SPORTSNET: Coyotes top prospect Logan Cooley intends to return to the University of Minnesota for his sophomore season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt that Cooley’s decision is tied to the Coyotes’ failed arena bid. Earlier this year, he indicated that he wasn’t in a hurry to make the leap to the NHL. U.S. College players tend to spend at least two seasons with their university clubs. Management isn’t in any hurry to rush Cooley into their lineup, preferring to let him develop and mature as a player in the college ranks.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports four potential candidates for the Flames’ vacant general manager job visited Calgary this week for interviews. Among them were Dave Nonis, Stan Bowman and Marc Bergevin. Seravalli believes the favorite could be Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conroy seems to me to be the best choice. He knows the Flames well during his years in their front office.
THE ATHLETIC: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will reportedly meet with veteran coach Joel Quenneville after the playoffs to discuss his future with the league.
Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers in 2021, following the investigation into the sexual assault of former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach by former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Alrich.
At the time of Quenneville’s resignation, Bettman said he would have to meet with the commissioner if he wished to re-enter the league at some point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could mean that there’s a team interested in hiring Quenneville.
Shanny used the Leaf blower to clean house. Spezza fled before it was turned on him, and the Keefe Leaf is stuck to the blood wet ground for the time being.
I wonder if Ottawa has a job for Spezza?
In a pig’s eye. You only get to thumb your nose at Dorion once.
Coach Q for the Leafs? That would be a positive for them. Or will his ship be Beached?
I’m a fan of dark humor. But that one made me go 😬
I wouldn’t hire that POS if he worked for free.
If somebody says cancel culture my head will explode.
Tell that to the 2 minors that were assaulted by the other POS, AFTER Mr Q gave him a letter of recommendation, after he assaulted one of Q’s players, which Q knew about.
Seriously, F that guy, find a different job if you need one.
Coach Q is what the leafs need behind the Bench
to go to the next level….✔️
Shanahan did a masterful job of playing the media and we may never hear Kyle Dubas’s side of the story.
One thing for sure, the new hires will need to happen quickly. I’m assuming the new GM will replace the current coaching staff.
Never dull in Leaf land.
Weird way of doing it though. Can all the coaches of the Marlies – who finished with 90 points and made it to the second round of the AHL playoffs – while firing the Boy Wonder and assistants and accepting the resignation of Spezza.
But let Keefe squirm on a hook until a new GM is appointed … and let him do the firing.
I know it’s no guarantee that the new GM WILL fire Keefe – he is a decent coach at least – but the norm is, a new GM usually wants HIS choice and not an inheritance – a situation that almost always puts the existing coach on a very short leash.
And how – and why – does Shanahan keep his job?
GeorgeO There was no plan on letting Dubas go; his own press conference when he said he didn’t know if he wanted to continue, is a major part of not getting an extension.
Shanahan said he needed Dubas totally bought in
The press conference showed at that moment he was not.
I think because there was not a plan to replace Dubas. Everyone in upper management was satisfied with the present group, is why Shanahan is safe for now.
For purposes of the press conference, Shanahan needed a plausible reason for the the firing of Dubas and the gutting of the Marlies and accepting Spezza’s resignation,
But his own hiring back in April of 2014 was ostensibly to bring the Leafs back to the promised land. At which he has failed while going through 3 GMs (Nonis, Lamoriello and now Dubas), and seeing 3 coaches – and possible 4 – shown the door (Carlyle, Horachek, Babcock and perhaps Keefe.
The question remains, why is it deemed necessary to have a go-between situated between ownership and the GM? It failed miserably in Vancouver with Linden.
Another question, raised by your post George, is why is Shanny still employed?
Caper and George, Kyle was not fired.
Leafs are simply not extending him because:
1. His demands were too high (gap in the counter offer); and
2. Shanny was not convinced that Dubas was all-in (Kyle’s Monday press conference).
Semantics, Hammer. He was let go. A distinction without a difference, irrespective of why.
Exactly LJ – fired – not re-hired … bottom line, you’re a free agent
And the question no one seems to have a plausible answer for is, “why does Leafs ownership feel the need to have Shanahan sitting as a go-between?”
I don’t know what his salary is, but certainly enough to meet Dubas’ request for an increase.
If you’re going to have a “general manager” then let him do his job without the necessity of a “filter”
If a guy says he is not sure if he is totally committed to do the job again, and then asks for a significant raise over what was offered ….. uhhhh, not a tough call.
Timing is brutal though.
Not disputing that, Ray, if that was indeed the case.
My question was – and still is – why do the Leafs feel it necessary to have a high-priced go-between situated between the ownership and the GM, and how does that go-between retain HIS job?
I dunno George, maybe because it is a board vs a single owner. I wouldn’t want to deal with that as a GM. Other teams have presidents, Vegas comes to mind.
Is he good at his job? They are better than before he got there I suppose. Kinda successful?
How is it that Quenville has to seek permission from the league to return yet Bowman is free to look for a job as GM? Neither should be allowed to return. This is just another in a long list of issues Bettman fails on.
Maybe that discrepancy paves the way for Q’s return?
There is a rumor on a couple of CBJ blogs the Davidson and Jarmo are interested in hiring Quenneville. I don’t see it, but Jarmo is known for his surprise moves.
If several teams want Q, all the better for him to come back. Doesn’t Bettman work for the owners of these teams?
From living over six decades on this planet, my guess is Dubas got cocky & overplayed his hand in the end.
I had several of those moments myself over the years, it’s called gaining valuable experience.
That said, with Dubas being very young for an NHL GM & his first gig as one, he gained a lot of valuable experience over this period & if he is as intelligent as many believe he is, he will be able to incorporate those experiences, the good & bad at his next gig & become very successful.
From my personal experiences, I would bet he never once expected that Shanahan would make the decision he did. I know it feels to Dubas like a swift kick in the balls right now, that excruciating pain in the pit of your stomach, but IMHO it is a case Live, Learn, Move On & Become Better.
Uwey well said. Sometimes folks think they’re not replace able, everyone is.
For some reason it reminds of an old memory, which is not similar at all.
I gave one of my staff a task to do for the day. He replied why don’t you do it.
I said, ok I will do it. You can go home now. “Why” he asked. “If I going to do it, then I don’t need you. ” he says OK I will do it, no I reply you go home for today.
Steve Simmons reported that Shanny offered Dubas a 5 year contract at $4 million per year. Twitter posts (take with a pound of salt) suggested Dubas came back requesting $6 – $7 million per year and more autonomy.
IF that is remotely true, then I would make 3 points.
1. Dubas is a moron for playing hardball with the guy (Shanny) who is responsible for much of his success. What other NHL team would have hired a no-name OHL GM 9 years ago, mentoring him for 4 years with some of the best hockey minds, then promoting to one of the most prestigious GM positions in the league.
2. Maybe Dubas thought the tactics employed by Willy, Mitch and Auston would also work for him. But one playoff series win in 5 years is not much of a resume to back up such a salary demand.
3. Hopefully this translates to player contracts. Leafs should no longer in the business of paying top dollar for the privilege of wearing the blue and white. Pay a competitive salary that enables the GM to ice a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup.
All the more reason for Dooby to consider the Pens job!
Johnny, If I were Shanny, I would not allow Kyle to speak with any other teams until July 1st.
Besides, why would Kyle be interested in talking to any other teams? As of last Monday, it was Toronto or nowhere (1 year to re-calibrate and ponder the meaning of life).
The Yawn comment above was meant for the BCLeaf fan
Who should perhaps stick to his Vancouver newsprint and follow his lowly Canucks
Interesting how Quenneville interest is getting traction
I’m nearly 1000% sure that BCLeaf fan has been a Leaf fan longer than some posters on here have been alive.
SOP, correct. Lots of my hockey friends are diehard Canucks fans,though, who can’t let go of 2011.
Well, heck, BCLeaffan, lots of Leafs fans can’t let go of 1967 – even though the vast majority of them weren’t even alive yet then – or, if so, still considered “toddlers” at the time.
Hey ken. How do you go to the bathroom if your underwear doesn’t come off?
Because, I am told, his underwear is paint!
Hee. I thunked it was plastic
It’s hard to understand why Shanahan was initially prepared to re up Dubas. A GM should be judged by his legacy, both his accomplishments during his tenure, and what he leaves behind:
1 playoff win in 5 seasons, mediocre bottom 6 forwards, a spotty D, no player acquired by trade that has either had an impact in the playoffs or made a meaningful contribution during his stay (except, perhaps Spezza as a player); the Leafs are pick rich in rounds 5 – 7 for the next three years but have one pick in the first 4 rounds of the upcoming draft and no 2nd round picks for the next three. They are left to restock the cupboard with a thin wallet.
Dubas’ departure is truly the best outcome for the Leafs as a new GM will be unfettered by the blinkers that Dubas wore.
LJ, the decision to extend Dubas occurred after the trade deadline and before the season ended. So, zero playoff wins in 4 years. Positives were the regular season results (playoff qualification), very good relationships with players / coaching staff and decent performance on the trade front (no one bats 1000). Perhaps there was also an understanding that the core 4 would be “adjusted” if success was not achieved in the 2023 playoffs.
I give Kyle credit for thinking about the future with his trades this past February. He didn’t completely empty the cupboard.
Dubas re-acquired a first round pick by trading Sandin, who had fallen out of favor,
swapped a non-physical UFA forward (Engel) for a physical UFA d-man (Schenn) and
replaced a UFA right D (Holl) with a left D (McCabe) at the same salary for another 2 years.
Lafferty may replace much of Kerfoot’s contributions and Accari could decide to stay at a reasonable cap hit.
Of course, ultimately, success or failure will be determined by what transpires with the 4 Divas (trademarked, Hammer of the Gods).