There’s speculation that the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs Kyle Dubas and the Pittsburgh Penguins are dancing around and might tie the knot soon. In fact, given the speculation from last week, I expected some sort of announcement yesterday.
However, the word was that the Penguins’ ownership was attending the Monaco Grand Prix and that was taking much of their immediate consideration. Funny, I didn’t see them when I was there. [Kidding, obviously. NHL owners live a bit differently than I do. If you are reading this post, probably you, too.]
Considering Dubas and the Penguins
Dubas’ decision and the possibility of him joining another organization interest me. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about him recently; and, to me, he is a poster child for what I think might be a radical change in the way NHL hockey clubs do business. He’s not part of the old boys club, and that (I believe) can confuse people who’ve been in the business for a long time.
That said, as demonstrated by his meltdowns when things don’t go his team’s way, he’s every bit as competitive. Again, confusing. The images don’t seem to fit well together.
Dubas Analytical Approach & the Penguins’ Desires
Here’s why I think Dubas could be an excellent fit with the Penguins.
Good Fit One: Dubas Utilizes an Analytical Approach
From what I read, the Penguins have long been known for their commitment to analytics and data-driven decision-making. This aligns with Dubas’ philosophy. He’s been a “money-ball” advocate who, as a matter of course, incorporates advanced analytics into player evaluation and team strategies.
Dubas utilizes statistical analysis to identify player strengths, exploit weaknesses, and optimize team performance. That fits well within the Penguins’ organization. [Going back to the Grand Prix, I heard an interview where the Penguins’ owner’s car had to be lifted by a crane and they were freaking out because they didn’t want anyone to see the under-carriage of the car and steal their concept for construction.]
Good Fit Two: Dubas Is a Cultural Fit
Similar to any NHL team, the Penguins’ organization has created a culture. It values continuous improvement and innovation, which is evident in its focus on analytics. Dubas is forward-thinking. He emphasizes incorporating cutting-edge methodologies which align well with the Penguins’ culture.
In the same way, Formula 1 teams analyze every detail of their cars, the Penguins prioritize an analytical approach to gain a competitive edge. They’re reading (or perhaps writing) the same book. Dubas’ experience in Toronto gives him a working familiarity with the Penguins’ organizational culture and makes him a solid candidate for the Penguins.
Good Fit Three: Dubas Employs Strategic Vision
Dubas has demonstrated his engagement with a strong strategic vision throughout his career. Yes, he’s faced criticism for his Maple Leafs’ team’s playoff disappointments. But, even this season, fans were hailing his ability to see a playoff need and address it at the trade deadline.
One season he worked to create a solid, shutdown third line because it was a need his head coach Sheldon Keefe had desired. He brought in David Kampf. The next offseason, he committed to building a hard-as-nails fourth line. He brought in Zach Aston-Reese.
All the while, he built a team that competed during every single season that was centred around speed, skill, and a modern playing style. His regular-season success cannot be denied. Given that the Penguins didn’t make the postseason in 2022-23, they might be plenty happy getting in season after season and (when they were in the playoffs) then letting the chips fall.
The Penguins want to build and maintain a winning tradition, just like the Maple Leafs had built with Dubas in Toronto. They believe Dubas can envision and execute long-term plans that could further enhance their chances of success.
Good Fit Four: Dubas Has Been Solid in His Ability in the Area of Player Development
Player development is an area of Dubas’ expertise. Under his leadership, the Maple Leafs prioritized player development programs and invested in the growth of young talent. This goal aligns with the Penguins’ philosophy of nurturing and integrating young players into their lineup.
In the Penguins’ minds, Dubas has demonstrated a solid track record in fostering talent and maximizing player potential. That could prove valuable in ensuring a seamless transition for the Penguins as Sidney Crosby eventually leaves.
The Bottom Line
In short, Dubas’ potential fit with the Penguins appears promising. His analytical approach, cultural alignment, strategic vision, and player development expertise make him – in the Penguins’ eyes – a strong candidate for the organization.
When the Penguins’ owners return from Monaco, we’ll see soon what Dubas’ decision might be. If he chooses to join the Penguins, how fun would that be for Maple Leafs fans to root against him?
It could be one more thing to mark on your calendar.