Maple Leafs’ Dubas Shows That He’s More Than Just a Roster Builder

The Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award is always presented to acknowledge the exceptional work of a general manager. After all, they do a lot of hard work to help build a competitive team for the season in hopes of Stanley Cup aspirations.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manger Kyle Dubas held a press conference as he updated the status of captain John Tavares’ concussion he sustained in Game 1 of the series against the Montreal Canadiens. In that conference, he showed everything that displays a leader of this franchise. He exuberated compassion, respect and empathy when the situation unfolded. 

After his comments, even his actions witnessing everything that unfolded, it’s about time that the General Manager of the Year award should mean so much more than just putting a team together. It should be about the care and respect that a general manager has for his players and that whenever something happens, he is there to provide the support and care that they need. Dubas went above and beyond displaying why he should be the general manager of the year.

Dubas Showed Care and Compassion

With less than 10 minutes left in the first period, the hockey world, especially Leafs Nation, was in absolute shock, anguish and disbelief witnessing the injury that Tavares sustained. Tavares received a hit from Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot. After that hit, forward Corey Perry’s knee accidentally struck Tavares’ head. 

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He struggled to get up, falling back into the hands of the medical staff on the ice. A stretcher was immediately called and all medical staff rushed onto the ice to help and provide the proper care. It was hard and emotional to watch– as a teammate, as a fan and as a human being. 

Tavares was stretched off, giving a thumbs up in the process signaling that he was okay. Prior to that, Dubas franticly rushed out of the box down the stairs to go and be with the captain of his team. As he dashed out, he immediately got on the phone to call his wife Aryne. As TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted out, the care he had for him was evident. 

I, for one, can’t imagine what that call would be like. Whether you’re Dubas or Tavares’ wife, that’s heartbreaking news to give and receive. Dubas did what he had to do and he didn’t waste anytime. He did the right thing to provide an update as to what was unfolding. He did everything that I would’ve done, if I were in his position. 

As a coach in minor hockey, I’ve seen my fair share of injuries on the ice and had to go on and ensure that the player was okay. Not to the extent of Tavares, but serious nonetheless. No matter the severity, a switch goes off in your head where you remove yourself from the position as a coach or general manger and the compassionate and human side comes out. At that moment there is nothing that matters more than the player’s health and safety. Dubas did just that. 

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

The good news in all of this is that Tavares was released from hospital and didn’t have any structural damage to his head, neck or spine. With everything that happened, there’s no doubt that everyone was relieved. 

Taking A Stand Against ‘The Sun’

As many were still reeling from what happened, the media outlet The Toronto Sun did the unthinkable and showed no integrity whatsoever. I’m not going to post a tweet of the image or give mention to the headline they used, but it was absolutely repulsive to do what they did.

Needless to say, Dubas wasn’t happy as he was disgusted with the choice of image and headline. 

“As an organization we felt yesterday that the Toronto Sun cover of their newspaper crossed the line and we found the cover to be disgusting.” Dubas said in a tweet transcribed by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

“It was extraordinarily insensitive on the part of the Sun with regards to the photo and the caption that accompanied the situation yesterday. Just a complete lack of compassion and respect on behalf of the Sun towards John and his family, especially for such an upstanding member of our organization community and his family that had to endure that.”

Full quote can be found here:

The fact that Dubas called out a media outlet for the insensitive cover page after many were already horrified witnessing the incident shows his dedication and support for his players. He wasn’t going to let this slide. How a news organization could stoop that low and think that what they printed was acceptable is absolutely outrageous. There was no way that image and headline should’ve made the front page. 

The editor in chief of The Sun came out with a statement, though there was not distinct apology. Yes, everyone witnessed a serious injury and a news story that will garner attention, but it doesn’t make it right to post a bloodied Tavares and a garbage headline on the front page.

We’ve seen players call out reporters before, but for the general manager to call out a major publication, it means they crossed the line.

Dubas Has Shown Human Side Before

While many commended Dubas for his support for the well being of his captain, this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen him display this kind of empathy. 

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When Ilya Mikheyev suffered a major wrist laceration against the New Jersey Devils in the 2019-20 season, he missed three months as a result. He was having a great rookie season before that injury. When he required surgery, it was Dubas who stayed and returned home with him when he was released from the hospital so that he can recover. 

In Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, Jake Muzzin was stretchered off and Dubas was with him at the hospital. There was no surprise that he did the same for Tavares. 

“In Jake and John’s case, they have young children. They’re watching at home and seeing it, feeling helpless,” Dubas said according to the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran. “You want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to provide an update (for families) and also to support medical staff.” (from ‘Leafs GM Dubas says Tavares also suffered knee injury in hit, calls out ‘disgusting’ newspaper cover’, The Toronto Star – 22/05/21)

In situations like this, Dubas is at the players’ side to show his support and provide whatever assistance he can give. Showing this kind of concern and going the extra mile to ensure your player is doing well is part of the job. No one has shown this empathy more than Dubas.

We know the general manager to be the brains behind putting a team together. The kind of action and dedication that Dubas has done in the past, especially in dealing with Tavares’ injury, shows that there’s more to the job than contracts and numbers. 

Showing this kind of concern, compassion and care is what makes a general manager. It’s his team. He wants to ensure that his players are safe. For that, he deserves to be General Manager of the Year.