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Dubas: Leafs to make significant changes, stylistically and system-wise

21 novembre 2019
A day after making a splash and terminating Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan and General Manager Kyle Dubas met with the media to speak on the aftermath of Wednesday's biggest story.

"Our major way of looking at it was, 'is this best for the long-term of the group?' Not to sit here at the end of the weekend and say, 'was this a success or not?', but in the long run, 'was this the best thing to do for our program?' We both agree that it absolutely was.", said Dubas, who, less than 24-hours ago, hired 39-year-old Sheldon Keefe to replace 56-year-old Mike Babcock behind the Leafs bench.

Dubas has indicated that the Leafs are looking at significant changes, stylistically and system-wise, and he has asked that the players buy into that new vision. He was admittedly disappointed in himself for not being able to jive with Mike Babcock more on a philosophical level, but insists it's not a problem that will carry over into his tenure with Sheldon Keefe behind the bench, as the two have shared success and won championships with both the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the AHL Toronto Marlies.

Even though it is expected that there will be some hiccups along the way as the new bench boss attempts to get the kinks out, Dubas and Shanahan have echoed the sentiments that the coaching change was the best move in the long-term, even if the timing is less than ideal.

With the expectations now at an all-time high for Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 33-year-old is fully aware of his undertaking and plans to continue to embrace the pressures of managing a team in Canada's hockey mecca moving forward.

"To me, working in Toronto and being in this position, pressure is one of the great honours. I wouldn't want it any other way. You can't go anywhere in Toronto without people caring deeply about the team."





There's no question that Keefe has inherited his fair share of problems and faces a tall task ahead, trying to right the ship in Toronto, but along with the issues he will absorb, he will also assume control of some elite players in Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner to deploy as he sees fit. Keefe is a detail-oriented coach who will, no doubt, provide better structure for this club, but it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where he does not take the leash off of his most lethal weapons and allow for more creativity from his top dogs. He will, to an extent, just let the kids play.



Keefe has done some line shuffling ahead of Thursday night's matchup against the Arizona Coyotes. Among the more notable changes, Kerfoot shifted to the wing on Toronto's third line centred by Jason Spezza, with Kapanen on the right. Mikheyev is slotted in to the left of Tavares, with Hyman shifting to the right flank. Barrie will start on the Leafs third pairing with Travis Dermott, but was also taking reps on the Leafs' top power play unit, which could help spark some offense for the struggling rearguard.

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