The 2023-24 NHL hockey season could be interesting for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the offseason, the Maple Leafs President of Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan chose not to renew the contract of now-former GM Kyle Dubas.
It didn’t take Dubas long to land a gig as President and GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, as the regular season approaches, the success or failure of both franchises might have significant implications for both Dubas and Shanahan and their respective teams.
Fleshing Out the Possibilities for the Maple Leafs and the Penguins
Possibility One: A Positive Outcome for Dubas and Penguins
What happens if the Penguins have a successful season? Last year, for the first time in a long time, the team with Sidney Crosby didn’t make the postseason. That was odd and cost the former team leadership their jobs.
What would the outcome for Dubas be if the Penguins win?
Outcome One: Dubas Enhanced Reputation
A successful season for the Penguins under Dubas would enhance his reputation as an NHL executive. It would demonstrate his ability to make solid roster decisions and build a winning team.
Outcome Two: Dubas Increased Job Security
Dubas might come to enjoy increased job security in Pittsburgh, and his role as President and GM would be more secure if he led the Penguins to success.
Outcome Three: Confidence in Dubas’ Direction
If the Penguins win and make the postseason, it would boost confidence and validate Dubas’s approach to team management and roster construction.
Outcome Three: Conversely, There Would Be Increased Pressure on Toronto
Although many Maple Leafs’ fans despised Dubas and wanted him to be run out of town, if his Penguins thrived and the Maple Leafs struggled, it would likely point more fingers at Toronto’s leadership. This would include Shanahan himself. Why can’t he deliver results? If he didn’t, that could be telling.
Possibility Two: A Negative Outcome for Shanahan and the Maple Leafs
Although I’ve conflated the possibilities to only two, there might be a myriad of other possibilities. For example, both teams could fail, or both could succeed, or both could have so-so seasons.
However, for the sake of my point in this post, imagine for a moment the impact on the Maple Leafs and Shanahan if the Penguins flourish and the Maple Leafs falter. It could get dicey.
Outcome One: Heightened Scrutiny on Shahanan and the Maple Leafs
If the Maple Leafs have a disappointing season while Dubas succeeds in Pittsburgh, Shanahan would likely face heightened scrutiny for his decision to part ways with Dubas.
Outcome Two: Shanahan’s Leadership Reputation Is at Stake
Shanahan’s reputation as the President of Hockey Operations could be on the line, particularly if the team underperforms after making significant offseason changes.
Outcome Three: Shanahan Might Face Fan and Media Pressure
The Maple Leafs’ fan base and media might become more critical of Shanahan’s leadership, potentially demanding accountability for the team’s struggles.
Outcome Four: The Long-Term Implications for Shanahan
The long-term implications for Shanahan and the Maple Leafs could include questions about Shanahan’s continued role within the organization. In fact, I would imagine there could be a change in leadership if the Maple Leafs’ struggles persisted.
The Bottom Line
Conversely, all this said and speculated, if the Maple Leafs have a successful season while the Penguins struggle, it would work to ease the pressure on Shanahan. He would be vindicated in his decision to part ways with Dubas.
The bottom line is that the impact of this season’s outcome could be interesting. There’s every reason to believe that the success or failure of each team would affect the perceptions and futures of both Dubas and Shanahan.
It could be a fun season.