Earlier today, ESPN released a list-icle that wasn’t totally dumb. Specifically, Craig Custance wrote about the most interesting people (non-players) in hockey under the age of 40 (for Insiders). Among the 12 front office executives, coaches, statisticians and agents, two of them came from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization – Assistant GM Kyle Dubas and Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Here’s a little bit from the Dubas excerpt…
There’s a bit of a misconception that has been built about the 28-year-old Dubas, who is now in his second season as assistant GM in Toronto. He’s been very transparent about his use of analytics while running a team in Sault Ste. Marie, and also in player evaluation with the Maple Leafs. But analytics is just one part of his process. If Dubas should be known for anything, it’s his willingness to look at everything to improve a hockey team.
And from the Keefe excerpt…
Dubas and Keefe are going to forever be linked, since Dubas gave the 35-year-old coach his break with the Greyhounds, so we might as well put them back to back here. With the graduation of Jon Cooper, Jeff Blashill and John Hynes to the NHL, Keefe becomes the leader of the next wave of young AHL coaching prospects, along with Stockton’s Ryan Huska. He may need time to develop after making the jump from the OHL to the AHL this season, but he has the Marlies off to a 5-2 start.
Custance nicely sums up with Dubas and Keefe are so interesting, but what makes it such an interesting is how successful both men have been in their new(ish) roles so far.
We can speak about Dubas more so in this light as he’s been around the organization for a while now. It’s still early in his big league executive career, but Dubas has said nothing but smart things when he’s had a microphone in front of him, and teamed up with Mark Hunter to navigate through one of the Leafs’ most interesting offseasons in recent memory. That Draft alone was hella impressive.
For Keefe, Custance nails it – he’s got the Marlies off to a hot start and shouldn’t have a tough time guiding thing deep into the playoffs. It doesn’t hurt that his roster is full of young, exceptional talent, but we won’t hold that against him. However, if Keefe has any NHL aspirations in the next few years like Cooper and Blashill and Hynes who came before him, he shouldn’t hold his breath for an opportunity in Toronto. Hopefully he’ll be great for the Marlies before he’s great for another NHL team.