After the surprising move when the Toronto Maple Leafs released Kyle Dubas, it didn’t take long for the dust to settle. At the year-end media conference, Dubas had noted how tough the year had been on his family and that he desired to either stay a Maple Leafs’ employee or stay home.
I believe him. It had to have been a tough and stressful season for his young family. I was however surprised that he negated a move if his services were not retained by the team. That said, I’ve done that myself. I’ve said one thing and done another – and I was totally honest in both those choices at the time I noted them.
About Dubas, It Was Going to Be Either the Senators or the Penguins
Dubas, eventually, seemed destined to land either with the Ottawa Senators or the Pittsburgh Penguins. He chose the Penguins. He is now the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the new President of Hockey Operations for the Penguins. I know Pittsburgh, my sister lived there. It’s a beautiful place to live. He and his young family should enjoy it.
For Dubas’ fans, it’s good to see him land on his feet so quickly. However, there’s one question that lingers in the minds of fans and might even cast a shadow of doubt on his statement during his end-of-year press conference. Did he lie about his intentions? Was it a ploy to get more money from the team?
What Dubas Said Specifically
Only two weeks ago, during his end-of-year press conference, Dubas stated: “I definitely don’t have it in me to go anywhere else, and you won’t see me pop up somewhere else in a week.”
In that, he didn’t lie. It was two weeks later. Now, he’s a member of the Penguins. Does the discrepancy between his words and actions make him disingenuous? Does it raise questions about how to interpret his earlier remarks?
The Prioritizing of Family Makes a Difference
During his media address, Dubas emphasized the importance of his young family and placed them as his top priority. When he said it, he probably believed that his wife – who has been a part of other decisions in his work – would probably want him to remain home and not work. They all needed rest.
I can think that’s what he might have meant when he said this – as in, “This has been so stressful that I think it might be best if I just packed it in to revitalize myself and help my family.”
But that’s not the way a tight young family works. I know Dubas listens to his wife. There was a situation where Ilya Mikheyev was sliced badly in New Jersey and had immediate (and perhaps life-saving surgery) to heal that huge cut on his wrist. At his wife’s encouragement, Dubas camped out with Mikheyev in his hospital for the better part of a week. He bought the young Russian clothes and personal effects from his own pocket. His wife told him: “Wouldn’t we want that for our son if he needed it?”
Does the Move to Pittsburgh Harm Dubas’ Family?
There’s another way to interpret the move to Pittsburgh as NOT harming Dubas’ family but helping them grow closer. I don’t know that this happened, but I can imagine that after the media statement, Dubas went home. He and his wife spoke about his comments.
Dubas seems an ambitious sort, and his wife knows it and probably supports it. I can see them talking about the possibilities before and after his release. I can also see her encouraging him to pursue his (their) career. They cannot be hurting for money because of his contract with the Maple Leafs. But I can see her wishing him to move on – not so much because of a business point-of-view but from a personal (a family) one.
I can see this NOT being that much about business.
Reasons Why Dubas Might Have Had a Change of Mind
We can only speculate about why Dubas changed his mind. However, a number of factors could have influenced his decision from a family perspective. Obviously, from a business perspective, there are new opportunities and professional growth for Dubas. Being the President of Hockey Operations with the Penguins is a deal. It’s an attractive and unique opportunity for Dubas.
However, instead of seeing Dubas’ admission that the job as Maple Leafs’ GM was stressful on his family as a problem as the Maple Leafs did, I can see the Penguins’ ownership seeing it as something they hoped to mediate. In fact, Dubas did say at the media event that the Penguins’ organization was a supportive environment. They likely went out of their way to give him positive assurances and create a supportive environment.
Personal Considerations Became More Important
While Dubas emphasized the importance of family during his press conference, personal circumstances can change quickly – especially when there’s a sitdown conversation with all those involved. It’s possible that family considerations were talked about seriously by Dubas and his wife. They could have assessed their young family’s needs and decided it would be a better personal family situation in Pittsburgh than in Toronto.
His wife might have influenced his decision to join the Penguins. It might not have been a business decision at all.