During a conference call this afternoon, Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant General Manager, Kyle Dubas, announced that Gord Dineen would not be back as Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies next season. Dubas was appreciative and thanked Dineen and his staff for all the hard work they had put in with the club, but he noted that “an obvious organizational shift was underway.” Furthermore, Dubas expressed an interest to keep Dineen on the Marlies’ coaching staff as an assistant coach. However, as of today, Dineen has yet to confirm that he would be willing to accept a demotion. It is expected that the former Marlies’ bench-boss will notify the organization in the next few days to discuss his role in further depth. Moreover, Dubas did discuss the club’s desire to start developing coaches in a similar fashion to how they develop players.
“Why look to another organization to fill a role with our team? We should have the ability to fill that position from within.” – Kyle Dubas
Dubas also mentioned that Brendan Shanahan, Mark Hunter, and himself were all part of the process in making this “tough decision” that had been in the works since the end of the Marlies’ season. He noted that it was an ongoing discussion that transpired during the OHL playoffs and again at the World Championships.
When questioned about Sheldon Keefe (Head Coach of the Soo Greyhounds and former employee of Kyle Dubas), he stated, “we were given permission to talk with Sheldon yesterday. It is our intention to talk with him and several other candidates.”
In addition, Dubas also declared that the Leafs brass “are looking for an elite, young coach…one that can win and develop. It’s that simple.”
When Mr. Dubas was pressed on questions regarding the Leafs coaching and general manager positions, he politely refused to comment on the matter.
The Keefe-Dubas connection is an obvious one going back to their days together in Sault Ste. Marie. Keefe, in his third year as coach of the Greyhounds, was recently named OHL Coach of the Year for the 2014-2015 season. Here, he boasted a record of 54-12-0-2 with a winning percentage of .802. Notably, Keefe’s Greyhounds led the entire CHL in goals scored with 342. When the Brampton native was interviewed regarding his coaching honours, he was sure to acknowledge Dubas’ influence on his career.
“I owe an incredible amount of gratitude to our former general manager Kyle Dubas, our president Dr. Lou Lukenda, our board of directors and general manger Kyle Raftis for believing in me and providing the opportunity to coach in the best junior hockey league in the world. Coaching in general would not be possible for me without the continued support and understanding of my wife Jackie and our two sons Landon and Wyatt.” – Sheldon Keefe
The friendship and professional connection between the 34-year-old Keefe and the 28-year-old Dubas is clear, and grooming Keefe in the Centre of the Hockey Universe is an evident consideration for all parties involved.
With a chequered past, due to his connection with David Frost, Sheldon Keefe has shown the ability to grow as a person and distance himself from past conflicts. More importantly, he has shown a desire to move towards the future. To present a synopsis on exactly what happened during Keefe’s younger days would be a great disservice to the acclaimed coach. However, if you want details, I suggest reading Chapter 10 of Bob McKenzie’s book, “Hockey Confidential.” Here, McKenzie provides a great history on Keefe and his relationship with David Frost. McKenzie even makes some connections between Keefe and Mike Futa, a rumoured candidate for the Leafs GM position who also happened to coach Keefe during his time with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL. It should be noted that Futa, a Toronto native, is currently the Assistant GM of the Los Angeles Kings and the Leafs have yet to ask permission for his services.
If I were a betting man, it won’t be long before Keefe is announced as the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies by his friend and mentor, Kyle Dubas.