Kyle Dubas sat down with Bob McKenzie a week and a half away from the opening of 2019 training camp, discussing the ongoing Mitch Marner negotiations, the team’s cap situation, the battle for spots at training camp, and much more.

You can find the full video version of McKenzie’s interview over at

On the Mitch Marner negotiations and whether the team would consider a trade option: “I don’t even want to think about crossing that bridge”

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins, Game 1
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

What is the latest on Mitch Marner and negotiations? It’s all Leafs fans want to know.

Dubas: We continue to have a dialogue with Darren as recently as last week. I think I would feel a little bit more anxious or perhaps look back and wonder whether we should’ve done anything differently, but I think everybody in the league with these types of RFAs is in the exact same spot. Even the guys that are mentioned all the time, if you peel it back a level below with the guys that aren’t mentioned all the time, they aren’t signed, either. There hasn’t really been a lot of movement in that market since July 1st when Meier signed and Aho came off the board.

I don’t know how it will play out here. I would expect, in looking at it and the history of these things, some of it will start to shake loose. We are certainly hopeful and will continue to work towards having Mitch be one of those players that signs in the coming week here.

The Toronto Maple Leafs put out an official mini-pump up video leading up to camp on Twitter and social media. It seemed, as short as it was, five or six players were in it and Mitch wasn’t one of them. What if anything should we read into that?

Dubas: We know here that everything that we put out is going to be dissected and looked at for what the tea leaves are predicting. I just think it is as simple as in some cases there are players — going back to last year with William or with any unsigned player — with any video or publication that we put out… I don’t believe they have ever been a part of anything we have put out in the past. I think everyone knows how we feel about Mitch and his role within the team. As soon as we get that rectified, he’ll be front and center in most everything.

Training camp opens on Friday, the 13th. Do you think Mitch Marner will be signed and in St. John’s on Friday the 13th?

Dubas: It’s certainly our hope and our goal. We don’t want anybody to miss any day of training camp, period. We will continue to work towards that and remain hopeful. As I’ve said before, I am optimistic about it. We lived through it last year. We saw the effect of a player missing training camp and exhibition and the first two months of the season. It is tough to expect that player to jump back in and be at the level we expect, especially at the pay that they’ve previously earned from their previous seasons. When that doesn’t work well, the criticism flows in and it makes it even tougher.

That is our hope and our goal. I am sure every team in the league with these types of players is in the same spot. You want your whole team there for training camp. We are going to have some guys who are injured and missing from training camp, which we knew before. You can plan for that and be ready for that, but we hope everyone else is there.

If you haven’t been able to get a deal done in the last weeks or months, what reason would we expect that in the next 10 or 12 days you’ll get something done?

Dubas: I think the way we look at it is… I think the realism of the situation starts to near closer and closer. If there is no contract, then most players don’t attend training camp. That’s just the way that it is. When missing time begins to become real, I think it changes the dynamics of the discussion quite a bit.

I go back to last year with William. It was right around this time — I guess even earlier into August — where Lewis Gross and myself started to have much more meaningful discussions. It is a much different situation because there was really only a three-month lead-up from when I took the job to those things happening. This one here, there has now been 15 months, give or take.

Our whole team is going to take off for St. John’s next Thursday. We are nine days away from that now. We are hopeful that as those days tick away, we begin to see some progress.

How do you expect you’re going to crack this nut? Is it going to be a long-term deal? Is it going to be a three-year bridge deal?

Dubas: We’re open…. In a situation with a player like Mitch and what he means to our team not only on the ice but off, I don’t think we are really… Whether it’s long term or short term, we are open to discussing most of the available terms. Whatever may feel right for Mitch in the areas we are willing to discuss, we will go down that path.

You made reference earlier to the other RFAs in the league. There is this entire phenomenon of players coming out of entry-level and just a massive number of high-profile star players who don’t have deals. In many ways, the Mitch Marner situation is no different than what is going on all throughout the league, and yet in Toronto, maybe it feels like it is a little bit more unique because the sense you get is that Mitch looks at Auston Matthews’ five years and $11.6 million and says, “I need to be in that universe.” Forget about all of the other comparables because they’re teammates and they’re so closely linked. Suddenly, Mitch needs Auston Matthews money or some variation thereof or else, from his side, a deal is not going to get done. From your side, it doesn’t seem like you’re prepared to give him five years and $11.6 million. It becomes a little bit more difficult.

Dubas: I guess I’ll speak to Auston first. It’s interesting because a lot gets said about Auston and what his future intentions are. Auston last year during the season wanted to be here and wanted to sign. We knew what he brings on the ice. We know the position he plays, the attributes he brings in terms of goal scoring and where he fits in the league in goal scoring since he’s been in the league, and what he brings to our team as a center and so on and so forth. Auston also has a different, unique set of leverages. As did John Tavares as a UFA. If you go back through the history of the different deals we’ve done, whether it’s Johnsson and Kapanen, every single negotiation is different and every player has varying leverages and things they bring to the team.

The one thing that has been said and been reported is that the only way we value our players is in what we pay them. I think we’ve got Morgan Rielly, Fred Andersen, Jake Muzzin, Auston and John Tavares and they all make very different types of money based on the different leverages they have and their capabilities. I don’t think that money is the only way we value our players. That is what they get paid and I think you can look throughout the league and most would say, “That’s what they mean to the Toronto Maple Leafs,” but Morgan Rielly means a heck of a lot to our team. Fred Andersen means a heck of a lot to our team. Zach Hyman. All the way down the list.

Every negotiation hinges on one part is your capability, and one part is your leverage that you have. We are into September now and all of these different players — Aho notwithstanding — have had the chance to have teams tell them what their market rate is. Thus, and even despite that, all these teams are in this sort of quagmire. There is nothing really shaking loose.

You referenced Nylander and the negotiation last year. Is there any reason to believe you are not destined for the same sort of time frame with Mitch?

Dubas: We sure hope not. The first discussion I had with Darren was at the combine in 2018 about Mitch. With William, the first discussion we really had with Lewis was at the draft a couple of months before. Lewis and William were in the position where they were the first ones that were going to have to go. I understand William and Lewis’ apprehensions were about that and being in that spot. William also only wanted to be here long term. The easy solution for everyone would be to say, “Take a short term deal and then we will see where these things line up, and you’ll have two or three more years to play and see where you’re at within the league.” But William wanted to be here long term and obviously, he became entrenched in that. You can’t begrudge that because you want everyone to be here long term.

I just think that they are very different situations. I know other teams look at that and think they might be in that situation this year, but I think this situation is much different than that.

One of the interesting things about the Nylander situation was the salary cap dynamic. For each week that he was out, it actually worked a little bit to your advantage in terms of the first-year cap hit being high and the out-years being lower. The same dynamic is at work with Mitch here but the opposite principle works for you. You presumably can’t afford a much higher first-year cap hit for Mitch Marner. Does that make it that much more essential that this gets done by October 2nd?

Dubas: It would make Brandon Pridham sleep easier at night if it did, certainly. I think the difference from last year is that we entered the year after signing John and even if we had William signed at the beginning of the season, we were entering the year in a much different cap situation. Now, having John on board and Auston signed and taking care of the all of the other RFA contracts along the way in Kapanen, Johnsson, Kerfoot, Ceci, etc., and making the trade for Barrie and what that does, we don’t have the same ability to just say, “We’ll take the savings in the future years and it doesn’t matter towards this season.”

More importantly than what it does to the cap, it’s how it affects this year’s team and the rest of the guys in the room and our competitiveness and our ability to do other things during the year to bolster [the team] if we see that is what’s needed as the year goes on.

Is that why you went out to get the Clarkson contract — to give you the extra LTIR flexibility to be able to do with maybe having to take a higher cap hit in the first year?

Dubas: It started to get out there that that was maybe one of the strategies — that teams would maybe outwait us until the season started. When that started to get out there, however that did, it got back to us. We were in a situation where we were going to be an LTI team anyway. There was an incentive for Vegas to move the contract. We had another player they were interested in and we were talking to them already. We just kind of combined the two maneuvers. It gave us some greater flexibility within the parameters of the CBA. They got a player they wanted. We got a draft choice as well. Different things come to light. You can react in different ways and aim to give yourself the most flexibility as possible.

Some people, as we get closer to the season, would think the offer sheet threat diminishes. Do you fear, expect or think offer sheets are still a possibility?

Dubas: I think they are always a possibility. The number of teams that have the capability of doing so diminishes as those teams have kind of gotten ready for the season, right? I don’t know. Predating the Aho offer sheet, the previous one was an in-season offer sheet with O’Reilly, I believe. I might be missing one in between. I think anything is still possible, but every team is going to lose their offseason cap flexibility in a month from now. Teams are going to bolster their groups as they see fit.

I don’t know how likely it is. It’s not impossible. There may be one or two, but I certainly think they were more likely at the start of the summer when cap space was greater for each team and the off-season cap was also there for some flexibility.

The Clarkson and Horton LTIR money kind of gives you a little extra insulation for that, doesn’t it?

Dubas: And also we’re going to have two guys injured at the beginning of the year in Dermott and Hyman. I know there is a narrative that we can’t do anything with Mitch until the beginning of the season and that’s not true, either. Brandon has mapped this out a million different ways and has done an excellent job, in my opinion, that ensures there is nothing that prohibits us from doing a deal with Mitch.

Do you almost welcome an offer sheet just insofar as it would bring things to a head? There is no mechanism in place other than December 1.

Dubas: There are times you wish that were the case and it’s just a matter of, “Okay, we can make our decision one way or another. We and the players and the staff can move on.” But with someone like Mitch and what you think about him as a person and a player, I don’t think you ever want to get to that point with one of the people that is most important for your program. There have been moments throughout where you may think that way, but in the end, a negotiated agreement that everyone is content with would be the best way through.

In Vancouver, you said you’d consider all of your options if there was an offer sheet. Does that still stand?

Dubas: I think we have to, especially now, right? I think we have to make the decision that is in the best interest of the Toronto Maple Leafs always and evaluate where things are at. I can tell you that it is our absolute goal, as it always has been, to have an agreement that keeps Mitch Marner here as long as possible and keeps him here his whole career. That is just what we think of him as a person and a player. I don’t really like to think about anything else.

If you don’t get a deal done here fairly soon with Mitch, does there come a point where you have to seriously look at your trading options?

Dubas: It’s not even something that we’ve… We’ve had a few calls. It hasn’t been ringing off the hook with teams, either, as I think they feel we want to keep him. I don’t know how they feel and what they are hearing from the other side, but Mitch has said publicly this is where he wants to be. There haven’t been that many discussions. I don’t even want to think about crossing that bridge.

Has there has been any suggestion from Darren or anybody in the Marner camp that they would look favourably on that?

Dubas: No. We haven’t received anything like that to us.

Let’s assume you get the Marner deal done. You’ve got Matthews at $11.6 million and Tavares at $11 million. If Mitch comes in at a double-digit number or close to it, can you spend $32-33 million on three forwards and still contend for a Cup and build a team around that?

Dubas: We would be thrilled to have those guys locked up and William and Morgan and Fred and the rest. I think the pressure then would go to me and to the player personnel department — but in the end, to me — to work around the edges of the roster and find ways to keep the roster as competitive as possible. I know the teams that have won or have contended have done so with far less concentration in terms of their cap at the top of the roster, but for us, having those types of players, we feel fortunate to be in that spot.

The pressure of being able to operate and contend and put the best product on the ice possible will come down to how we dance around the edges of the roster and find inefficiencies and different players that have perhaps not found their way with another team or are veterans at the end of their careers or signing these RFAs to longer deals that can be of great benefit to them but also to us, and make it work that way.

To me, if all of those guys are here long term, they are capable of driving the team. Getting it across the line — the pressure of that will fall to me and to our personnel department to make sure we have the complementary pieces to help them.

On Mike Babcock’s job security and the possibility of naming a captain

Toronto Maple Leafs' Mike Babcock
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock is back as the head coach. At the end of the season, there was a bit of a delayed vote of confidence which fed into the narrative that you didn’t hire Mike Babcock and he isn’t your guy. As you go into this season, there is all sorts of talk among Leafs fans that he’s got to be on a short leash. Aside from whatever the dynamic might be between the GM and the head coach, the mere fact that the team has lost in back-to-back first rounds against Boston, there is the sense that this is the year that the coach needs to make something happen. What is your reaction to all of that kind of talk?

Dubas: I think in the future I just won’t answer at the press conference in terms of the day after the season ends. I still feel that same way. I hadn’t had a review from Brendan and from our owners about the job I had done. I am more patient and don’t like to give anything one way or another the day after. I think it’s a poor way to evaluate anything — to do it right after the event just ended and reflect back on it and not have time to go back through the year. I understand why it maybe created some of the action that it did, but that wasn’t my intention by any stretch of the imagination.

You go back through the year, you look at it and we’ve had back-to-back 100-point seasons. Last year, we got off to a great start to the season and in the second half of the year, we faced challenges, but if you look at the two playoff series… I know that we lost in seven games in both of them, but I thought they were very different series.

Before, the first two games in Boston and even the fifth game that we won, we were badly outplayed at times in that series. This year, if you want to go solely based on how the seasons ended both years, you can look at the point totals, which was a little less. But if you look at the way we played in that series against Boston, I thought we were much better this season. We had the chance coming home to win the series and got the lead early and just couldn’t stick with it. In Game 7, we didn’t play overly well, but I thought overall it was just a better series in terms of how close we were to them and whether we were the better team in a certain number of games or not. It was a series between two very close teams.

We had some injuries during the year and some different things. We’ve obviously had DJ move on to become a coach elsewhere, which speaks to his capabilities. I think all of that is to say we are growing. There is going to be some times where there is going to be adversity.

Our season ended and the Bruins went on their run. As soon as the Raptors won, everyone came up to me and said, “You should just do what the Raptors did. They made changes and all of these trades and then they won.” It is easy to say that. But knowing those people and the management that worked there, that conveniently leaves out 2014-2018 and losing to Cleveland three times and losing to Brooklyn the first year. The second year, being the favourite against Washington and getting swept. Different stages of the process. They ignore the different things that need to be learned along the way and I think that is where we are at with everything here.

A captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs — will you have one this season?

Dubas: We’ll see. I think it’s always something that I have been very patient about and people will say slow or too slow to do because people will say the Toronto Maple Leafs need a captain. I think last year, going through the year in this position rather than in the AGM position, it really allowed me to see the different qualities that are going to be needed in that role, how the person conducts himself every day, and really the fact that the person needs to be present and ready to deal with the things that come along.

It is not to say that in other markets being the captain carries less prestige. I just think that is different here. The player goes out and serves as the voice of the team to a strong media contingent pretty much day in and day out. They can’t take any days off. They can’t hide from it. I think just needing someone who is calm and stoic and ready at all times… We’ve got some great candidates in there.

That’s the second part of it. One is accepting that you do want to have a captain of the team to serve as the central figure, and then we are fortunate that we have a few players that can fill that void and it’s trying to figure out what is best for the future of those players and for the group.

On the battle for jobs at the forward position

Ilya Mikheyev signs with the Toronto Maple Leafs
KHL import Ilya Mikheyev

What’s the timeline on Dermott and Hyman? Everyone was speculating they’ll both miss the first month of the season. What is the latest?

Dubas: There has been nothing that changes that. They are both back skating. Travis’ is a shoulder. He is back and skating. Zach is now gingerly back on the ice. Zach, it goes without saying for anyone who watches him play, is going to attack his rehab the same way he plays every game — tenacious. He has great habits and he is working at it every day. Travis has made great strides as well. Patience is the key. We can’t rush them back for late October and have it hinder them long term. I think that they are both still going to miss October as a conservative guess.

Those are not insignificant holes. That is not an insignificant period of time in today’s NHL where there isn’t any guarantee for any team.

Dubas: It’s not, but at the same time, you bring up Boston but you look throughout the league and the teams that finish at the top of the league last year, and almost all of them missed guys for long stretches. We’ve got so many guys, whether they are our own prospects that have developed or guys that we have brought in from elsewhere… It’s a massive opportunity for us to find out about players and for them to take hold of opportunities that may be there. They all had talent. They all flashed it at various times. Here is a long stretch for us to find out really what we have.

I hate not having Zach or Travis for an extended period of time, but we’ve known about it for a while and our mindset here with our organization has to shift to — whenever someone is out, it’s not doom and gloom. There are other teams in our league and in our division that have been contending teams for a long time and when they lose key, pivotal guys, it’s just ‘next man up’ and they keep rolling along. That is the mindset we need to take.

This is the most excited I’ve been going into camp because we have a lot of guys that are candidates to fill both of those spots. It’s going to be a real competition to see who takes it.

No Zach for the first month and potentially maybe starting the season without Mitch Marner… Who might you envision playing alongside John Tavares?

Dubas: In the end, that will be Mike’s call and I’m sure we will have different iterations of it throughout camp. Even without those guys gone, you’ve got John, Auston, William, Johnsson, Kerfoot, Kapanen, Nic Petan, Mikheyev coming in, Aberg, Trevor Moore, Bracco. You’ve got a long list of guys. Agostino last year had a great end to the season. They aren’t necessarily household names yet, but they’ve shown the potential to play up into those roles and some of them have shown high, high-end talent throughout their career, whether it’s been in junior or whether it’s been here in the NHL or the AHL. For us, it is trying to get them involved and get them those opportunities and see who runs with it.

Mike was very high on Ilya Mikheyev. One of the reasons he signed in Toronto was because he was really excited about playing for Mike Babcock. Would you anticipate he is a top-nine player on your team?

Dubas: I think he came over here about a month ago to begin the adjustment. Last year Ozhiganov came a bit early but not as early as Mikheyev. He and Korshkov have both been here for a long stretch already. They have made that step on their own already to get here and sort of settle in; Korshkov towards the end of the year with the Marlies as well. He certainly, in watching him over there, looks the part and acts like it. His habits and work ethic have been tremendous. We expect that he has a strong chance of playing in that role. Based on the work that he has put in, we are excited to see him capitalize on it.

What is the plan for Jason Spezza? Center or wing?

Dubas: It depends. I mean, we talk about the openings at the top of the lineup. He has obviously been one of the best passers in the NHL for a long time now. You have two centers who are among the top goal-scoring centers in hockey. You could slide him there. We had a full discussion with Jason about coming here. Especially with veterans, you don’t want to be leading them down a path where there is any false hope whatsoever. We were very transparent from the start about where he is going to fit in and he has bought into that role.

He is competing for that fourth-line center spot but knowing he can move up and down the lineup if we have an injury or something. It allows us to not have to move William back to center, which we did last year a couple of times and it was probably the worst year to do it, but those were the options we had. Now, between Spezza, Shore, Kossila, and Gauthier, we’ve really tried to address that.

On the defense and goaltending positions

Jake Muzzin of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: Canadian Press

Some significant changes were made on the blue line. Rielly and Muzzin are back as part of your top four, but Barrie and Ceci are coming in. Is it fair to say that is your top four?

Dubas: I would say so. Dermott, if he was healthy and back, I would say we would expect him to contend and try to unseat one of those players from their spot, but I think it is pretty clear those will be the top four and then it will be a heck of a battle for the fifth and sixth spot and seventh spot in training camp.

Are Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren NHLers this year?

Dubas: We’ll see. They both had excellent years last year. Rasmus was injured at the beginning of the year with the thumb injury and then he went to the World Juniors. Just two freak injuries — a thumb and an elbow, both on weird plays. In between all of that, he was essentially the Marlies’ number-one defenseman. Timothy had a more difficult start to his season and by the end of it was right up there with Rasmus.

People lose sight of Timothy and his… They both came from very different spots. Rasmus came from the Soo playing a lot. Timothy played from Rogle, where he was between a bunch of teams in his draft year and then had to play in the league as an 18-year-old and maybe he wasn’t quite as ready as Rasmus was despite the fact that he was drafted a bit higher.

Patience has been the key with him. Seeing him here, he’s back now and looks great. He has continued to improve vastly through each season. We are excited about them. I hope they force us to do that during the year.

If they can’t play in your top four, though, is it better to let them over-ripen with the Marlies than play them in 5-6-7-8 roles?

Dubas: I think it depends on the number of minutes you’re giving to that pair. Even still, those are still big minutes. Even if it’s 10-15, or whatever the time is, I think it’s still important that you’ve got the best people in there to drive play and have them out there controlling the game if they can — if they’re ready for that. If it is going to be in those minutes and they’re not quite ready for it, I think we would prefer to have them with the Marlies, where they’ll play a ton.

Is your defense, as you see it right now, what you see is what you get in terms of the way you are going to start the season? Are you still in search mode for more or better defense, or are happy and satisfied with the way the group is?

Dubas: We would be happy knowing Dermott is going to be a month back. It really gives those… There is a big cluster of guys there that have all played in the NHL and have all shown flashes in the NHL or the American league. You go through Marincin, Holl, Harpur, Schmaltz, Kivihalme from the Finnish league, and then Gravel. You’ve got guys who all have big-time experience. two of them are going to grab those spots. We know a lot about them from before and we are also going to know more about them as they roll.

Jake Gardiner has not signed a contract as of yet. Is there any chance whatsoever that he could end up with the Leafs this year?

Dubas: I wouldn’t say it’s a zero chance, and I don’t mean to put this on anything else, but until we have a solution to the situation with Mitch…

If Mitch signs a bridge deal and maybe the AAV is a little bit less, maybe there is some [space]?

Dubas: I think, at that point, we would go back to Pat and Jake and say perhaps, “Here is what we have.” It may be enticing to them. It may not be. He is a wonderful person and he has been an excellent player for us for a long time. We never want to close that door.

On the goaltending — multi-level question: How many games should or will Frederik Andersen play this year, all things being equal in terms of health? Do you feel like, with Michael Hutchinson and/or Neuvirth on a PTO, your goaltending position is set now?

Dubas: In Fred’s case, we are going to leave that to our performance department in combination with Steve Briere and Mike to really look at the energy he is expending throughout the year and that he is set for the end of the season and for a playoff run. How many games that is — I have no idea what the optimal number is. I, along with others in hockey, are still working towards it. You can look at the last two Stanley Cup teams and say, “That is where we should go.” But we want to dig as deep as possible. Is there a reason they did what they did?

We certainly don’t want him playing in the 70-82 game range. That’s not feasible. We will work closely with them. Fred is great with his preparation and his feedback and telling us where he stands and how he feels. Especially going into his fourth season with us, he knows playing every game in October isn’t going to earn him anything at the end of the season, right? He is a great person and a great leader for us. He will let us know where he is at, which is great. He’ll do with Rich Rotenberg and Steve and they’ll formulate a plan for that.

In terms of the backup position, Hutchinson and Neuvirth will compete starting next Thursday when we do medicals and all through camp. We know what their history is. We know what they can be at their best and we know what has held each back. How much they worked on those things to sustain their top level over the summer, combined with… it’s a small sample size, how they perform at this camp, but there is a lot of similarities there and we will be interested to see who can run with it.

Below that, we’ve got Kaskisuo there as well, who had a great stretch and playoff for the Marlies. We’ve got the two young guys that are important to us in Woll and Scott. It’s deep. We can always continue, if we don’t find that we are getting what we need, to keep searching for it, via trade or waivers.

On meeting Ric Flair and dreaming of a Leafs championship parade

Photo: @MapleLeafs

How did you enjoy WWE Summerslam?

Dubas: It was awesome. We went with our whole family and some of our other staff. It was pretty cool to have it in the building. It was a lot of fun for current-day me and much younger me. It was a really cool event and a lot of fun.

You met Ric Flair. Did he have any opinions on the Mitch Marner situation?

Dubas: It was obviously a bucket-list type item for a wrestling fan to meet Ric Flair. He came around the corner and he was right in full-on Ric Flair [mode] and also really knowledgeable about hockey and our team. His favourite player in the league, he told me that day, is Auston Matthews, who replaced his previous favourite player who was Bob Probert. I thought that was an interesting anecdote. He seems to be a big hockey fan and a big Auston Matthews fan.

You saw the Raptors parade and how crazy this city was for a championship. Do you dare to dream you could make that a reality as soon as this season for Leafs fans?

Dubas: I think you have to dream about it. I think it’s part of what we all do in sports. You don’t want to become transfixed on the outcome, but even when you are fully about the process of being at your best every day and finding your best every day in hopes that that will give you as many opportunities as possible to get to the moment like what the Raptors had in June, I think you are fuelled when you do that by those big moments and by the team reaching the top of the sport.

Not only us for our staff but for our players, seeing that and the impact it had a little bit… I don’t think the Leafs would have the same impact nationally because they’re not going to have a drastic market in Montreal and Vancouver, but I think locally and with the generations of people that have gone through this ride with the Maple Leafs, to be able to have a moment like that would be so special for them. The impact of it locally would be so massive.

It’s not something that you dream of every day, but when the moment is fresh and you have days where it’s not going well, that can serve to fuel you. You’re not just doing this for yourself and for the people here. It’s a community and regional thing and it would have a massive impact on the people who live here and have supported the team an awfully long time — for much longer than all of us in the room have been alive even.

I think it would be a special moment. I know our players paid close attention to it. We hope, over time, to just keep giving ourselves as many chances as we can, much in the way the other teams in the league have gone about it. Hopefully, one year fortune will be on our side and we’ll be able to provide that here.