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Leafs part with Dubas as Shanahan says 'shift' derailed extension talks

Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

The Toronto Maple Leafs are parting ways with general manager Kyle Dubas, the team announced Friday.

"I would like to thank Kyle for his unwavering dedication over these last nine seasons with the organization, including his last five as general manager," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement.

"Kyle fostered a great culture within our dressing room and staff and consistently pushed to make our team better season over season. We wish Kyle and his family the best moving forward and thank him for his valuable contributions."

Dubas' contract with the Maple Leafs expires June 30. The 37-year-old was visibly emotional while discussing his future during Monday's end-of-season media availability, raising the possibility he'd take some time away.

"I definitely don't have it in me to go anywhere else," he said at the time. "It'll either be here or it'll be taking time to recalibrate and reflect on the seasons here. You won't see me next week pop up elsewhere; I can't put (my family) through that after this year."

Shanahan spoke candidly to the media Friday, outlining the timeline of Dubas' contract negotiations dating back to last summer.

The president noted the two sides had "pretty much a finished deal that reflected what (Dubas) wanted" before Monday's press conference. Shanahan said he began reconsidering after hearing what Dubas told the media.

"While watching Kyle's (press conference), there was a dramatic shift in my thinking," Shanahan said, according to The Athletic's Joshua Kloke. "Because Kyle might not want to be GM, and I have to take that very seriously."

Shanahan added that Dubas' representation submitted a new financial package Thursday, with Dubas emailing him the same day to express his interest in returning to the team. But Shanahan said he was "in a different place" by that point regarding who he wanted leading the organization, according to Kloke.

"I felt the long-term future of the Leafs GM had to change," Shanahan said.

Shanahan also addressed the impending search for a new GM, where he'll place an emphasis on experience but remain open-minded to all candidates, according to the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan.

Jason Spezza, former NHLer and special assistant to the general manager, is also no longer with the team and tendered his resignation prior to Shanahan's press conference, reports TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

Spezza was hired to the Maple Leafs' front office following the 2021-22 campaign, his last as a player. He put up 363 goals and 632 assists in 1,248 NHL games.

Morgan Rielly, the Maple Leafs' longest-tenured player, expressed support for Dubas on Monday.

"I think the world of Kyle," Rielly said, adding: "I'm not in charge of what happens with his contract, but everything he did was in the team's best interest, and he put us in a position where we had a chance to play and to win and to succeed. Ultimately, the players are the ones that were on the ice at the end of the season."

Dubas made numerous significant splashes as general manager. He added the likes of John Tavares and TJ Brodie in free agency and was active on the trade front, acquiring Jake Muzzin, Jack Campbell, Nick Foligno, and Ryan O'Reilly while notably dealing away Nazem Kadri.

He also signed Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Rielly to their current contracts.

The Maple Leafs set franchise records for points and wins in a regular season under Dubas but failed to win a playoff series in his first four years at the helm. After finally advancing past the first round this year, Toronto was unceremoniously beaten by the Florida Panthers in five games.

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