In somewhat of a shocking development, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin have been fired as assistant GMs. Incoming is a 28 year old executive, Kyle Dubas, formerly General Manager of the Soo Greyhounds and a big proponent of advanced statistics.
Poulin and Loiselle out as assistant GMs of Leafs. Kyle Dubas in as new assistant GM. This is Shanahan making first front office change.
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) July 22, 2014
The Maple Leafs have signaled a change in management direction under Brendan Shanahan, and it’s probably the closest thing resembling that culture change the Maple Leafs have been talking about in the past few months.
Dave Poulin was involved in a little bit of everything to do with the team as VP of Hockey Operations, as well as serving as GM of the Toronto Marlies since Dave Nonis was promoted to GM of the Maple Leafs after Brian Burke was fired.
Claude Loiselle handled the team’s cap management and negotiated contracts for the team since 2010. Last year, the Leafs took a tonne of flak for the way they used their compliance buyouts, for the structure of the David Clarkson contract (which is essentially buyout proof due to its absurdly signing bonus-laden structure), and for the loss of Joe Colborne after the Leafs needed to shed some cap in preseason. They were also charged with a bonus overage this season — something a bottom 10 team should never be doing — as they flirted with the upper limit all season.
Both are out, and a new, young (just 28), progressive thinker has been added to the fold in Kyle Dubas formerly of the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds.
Dubas is the right mix for a new-age hockey guy; he’s served as a scout, an agent and a GM and brings a fresh approach to a burgeoning analytics arena that has been gaining more and more steam in the hockey world. The outgoing staff (Farrish, Gordon, Cronin, Loiselle, Poulin) were laggards in regards to analytics and were regularly putting their foot in their mouths, saying things such as: shot counts don’t matter, using proprietary scoring chances to gauge who is controlling play, and using systems that were allowing the most shots against in the league and explaining that it was misleading.
Shanahan on Dubas: “He has a fresh approach that we feel will benefit our club for years to come.”
Here’s an excellent interview with Kyle Dubas at Canucks Army which is helpful in showing how he analyzes and assesses his players.
We’re excited about the addition of an up-and-coming hockey executive in Kyle,” said Nonis.
Dubas is a very young hockey executive and has just three years experience in management at the OHL level, so it’s perhaps stretching to say the Leafs have completely overhauled the management group, but it seems to rock the boat in a new direction. Dubas is a student of the modern game, was an advanced stats guy before advanced stats were really a thing, and will bring a different voice that challenges some of the old-school echo-chamber thinking that really emanated out of our interviews with the management team last summer.
“He’s impressive, smart, devoted, dedicated,. He believed in advanced stats before it was popular to do so. He’s ambitious. And he sees the game well. Relates well to people. Understands that if want respect, show respect.” - Sherry Bassin
While this caps off a promising, refreshing, intelligent off-season by Shanahan, the most interesting part of it — given the moves since — has been the decision to keep Randy Carlyle around despite so many of the subsequent moves — letting Bolland and McClement go, firing his assistants, talking about using four lines, bringing in an advanced stats-oriented GM to work on what was the worst possession system by the numbers in the NHL last season (and perhaps ever) — suggesting there’s no reason for him to come back. There must really be a feeling that Carlyle is prepared to embrace change or else he will be gone very early on.
This is a nice show of accountability in management and potentially a really astute addition to the staff.
“This announcement today is one that brings very mixed emotions for me. Certainly, I am excited by the massive opportunity that the Toronto Maple Leafs have afforded me. However, with that comes leaving a team and group of people that have an impact on me that is special that it is truly difficult to put into words. “One of the most important elements of this decision for me was the fact that the staff and group of players with the Greyhounds are just a fabulous team and will be able to carry on the current course in a seamless manner. I’m also very excited about working with the Board of Directors over the short-term future to properly transition the team.” Kyle Dubas on his transition from the Soo Greyhounds to the Toronto Maple Leafs
Had brief meeting with Kyle Dubas when he was a 24 year old agent and told anyone that would listen that he's on the fast track to the NHL.
— Sheldon Keefe (@SheldonKeefe) July 22, 2014
Kyle’s knowledge, passion, integrity and competitiveness are unmatched and I am privileged to call him a friend and mentor.
— Sheldon Keefe (@SheldonKeefe) July 22, 2014