Brendan Shanahan made his first significant front-office move as Toronto Maple Leafs president on Tuesday by hiring Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager.
Dubas, who served as GM of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, is a major proponent of advanced statistics in hockey, and his addition to the Leafs under Shanahan and general manager Dave Nonis signals a shift in organizational philosophy.
“He’s not tied to any old ideas,” Shanahan said at a news conference at Air Canada Centre. “He’s obviously got a great appreciation and understanding of analytics, but he’s also married that to the complexities and instincts that you have to have when you’re putting a product on the ice.”
The Leafs also parted ways with executives Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin in the front-office shakeup. Shanahan said he had been thinking about making changes under Nonis but explained that he wasn’t looking for an assistant GM the entire time.
Dubas, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is just 28 years old and was a hockey operations assistant, scout and player agent before becoming the youngest GM in OHL history three years ago. He called the chance to work for the Leafs a “dream come true.”
Nonis called Dubas an “up-and-coming hockey executive.”
“He is an innovative thinker that will bring enthusiasm and impressive abilities to our club,” Nonis said in a statement. “His work ethic, character and demonstrated leadership in Sault Ste. Marie make for a valuable combination that will certainly have a positive impact on our organization in many ways.”
Dubas said it wasn’t a “slam dunk” that he would leave his post with the Greyhounds to join the Leafs. He added that his conversations with Shanahan and Nonis made him enthusiastic about the opportunity.
“That, to me, was one of the more exciting parts of the entire process: Knowing that I’d be able to come in and be heard and help out as much as possible and learn from Dave, who was a young assistant general manager as well as he came up, which I think will be a great experience for me,” he said.
Poulin, who held the title of vice president of hockey operations since 2009, and Loiselle, assistant GM since 2010, were originally hires of former GM Brian Burke and stayed on under Nonis. It was not immediately clear if the Leafs were going to hire another assistant GM before the start of the 2014-15 NHL season.
The Greyhounds hired Dubas as when he was just 25 and gave the Leafs permission to speak to him last week. Sault Ste. Marie made the playoffs in two of his three seasons at the helm.
“As an organization we are very excited for the opportunity that has presented itself for Kyle starting today,” Greyhounds president Lou Lukenda said in a statement released by the team. “It has been a pleasure to see the passion, dedication and commitment he has shown our organization over his tenure as GM while ensuring the sustained success for the Soo Greyhounds program.
“Our organization has always been dedicated to providing the best experience in all aspects of it’s operations, while providing the necessary tools and experience to make career advancements like this one.”