Dubas regrets undervaluing power of leadership: 'Shame on me for that'
Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Kyle Dubas has gained some perspective through defeat.

Following another roller-coaster season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, their general manager says he underestimated the importance of veteran leadership.

"Why, after the first time, I just didn't realize it and learn it then and then apply it every time moving forward, that's just a mistake on my end," Dubas said, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox. "Shame on me for that."

Though the Leafs have made the postseason in four straight campaigns, the team has yet to make it beyond the first round. A disappointing five-game series loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019-20 forced Dubas to rethink his previous position on the importance of leadership.

The 35-year-old executive addressed the Leafs' need for more veteran voices during the offseason. Dubas re-signed Jason Spezza, brought in future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton, and inked Wayne Simmonds and TJ Brodie to add more experience and determination to the club's Stanley Cup pursuit.

"Those guys have a real increased sense of urgency to them," Dubas said. "Either time is running out on their career and they want to win - in the case of Spezza, Thornton, and Simmonds - or they've faced great disappointment in the past, like TJ Brodie and all the guys on our roster."

However, Dubas did take the time to credit some of the pre-existing in-house leadership. He praised defenseman Morgan Rielly for doing "one of the most selfless things that I've seen" when Rielly volunteered to give his spot on the top power-play unit to Tyson Barrie to help the struggling rearguard find his confidence.

The GM said over the weekend that he's relying on Rielly and the rest of the club's budding core to continue growing in order for the Leafs to reach their maximum potential.

Dubas regrets undervaluing power of leadership: 'Shame on me for that'
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