Saturday August 6, 2022

Until 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs were regarded as one of the powerhouse teams in NHL. The 1967 season conluded with the Maple Leafs defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to win the Stanley Cup. That was the team’s 13th Stanley Cup. The only team to win more was their archrival Canadiens, who had won 14 at that time.  

Related: Maple Leafs’ Fans Must Stop Blaming Dubas for the Team’s Problems

The Canadiens would go on to win 10 more Stanley Cups, while the 1967 Stanley Cup was the last one the Maple Leafs would win.

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Things Have Changed for the Maple Leafs Since 1967

Fast forward to the present. Maple Leafs’ blogs are ablaze with fans calling for General Manager Kyle Dubas’ head. He has been called inept and a joke. And, those are some of the nicer things that we can report. He seems to have few supporters.

It has made us wonder, if we compare Dubas to the other general managers the Maple Leafs have had over the years, where would he rank?  

Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Alana Davidson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Altogether the Maple Leafs have had 21 general managers. Four of those were interim GMs and would not have had any real power to make changes. That leaves 17. Howie Meeker was hired and fired as GM in 1957 without the Maple Leafs playing a single game. (from “Brian Burke fired: From Conn Smythe to the present, a record of Leafs GMs,” Daniel Girard, Toronto Star, 11/01/2013).

Related: Pat Quinn: Success Through Leadership

Of the other 16 general managers, only four were at the helm of the Maple Leafs prior to the summer of 1967, the summer following their last Stanley Cup win. Three were multi-cup winners.

Conn Smythe (1927 to 1955) won seven Stanley Cups.

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Punch Imlach (1958 to 1969)  won four Stanley Cups.

Charles Querrie (1917 to 1927) won two Stanley Cups.

The fourth GM was Hap Day, who was at the helm for two seasons (1955-1957).

Looking at General Managers Following the Original Six Era

Starting in the 1967-68 season, the NHL began to expand from its original six-team format. The league doubled in size to 12 teams in the 1967-68 season. By 1972, there were 16 teams. By 2021, that number had doubled again to 32 with the addition of the Seattle Kraken.

Brian Burke
Brian Burke was a Maple Leafs general manager (Canadian Press)

We don’t think it is fair to compare general managers from the post-expansion era with those who came after. Instead, we’ll compare all the general managers from 1967 to the present. Altogether the Maple Leafs have had 14 general managers during that time. Where amongst those general managers would Kyle Dubas rank?

If we look at regular season wins, here are the top five general managers since 1967.

General Manager Wins

Jim Gregory 334

Cliff Fletcher 202

Kyle Dubas 171

Pat Quinn 169

Gerry McNamara 166

These numbers can be deceiving. It took Gregory 11 seasons and 788 games to get those 334 wins. Fletcher took seven seasons and 460 games to get his 202 wins. Dubas, on the other hand, only took four seasons and 290 games to get his 171 wins.

Related: Brian Burke’s Terrible Tenure as Leafs GM – Part 2

If we rank the general managers by Win Percentage we get the following.

General Manager Win Percentage

Kyle Dubas .643

Pat Quinn .591

John Ferguson Jr .559

Lou Lamoriello .547

Jim Gregory .506

Ken Dryden .506

Based on those numbers, Dubas is number one and it isn’t even close. 

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Maple Leafs’ General Mangers’ Postseason Success

Of course, as we all know, playoffs are a completely different story when it comes to Dubas. In the four seasons, he was general manager when the Maple Leafs failed to get past the first round. Where then does Dubas rank for the playoffs?

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs GM
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs GM (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If we look at games won, we see the following:

General Manager Wins

Pat Quinn 26 

Cliff Fletcher 25

Jim Gregory 22

Gerry McNamara 14

Kyle Dubas 11

Despite not having won a single playoff round, in four seasons Dubas has already moved into fifth place all time for playoff wins by a Maple Leafs’ general manager.

Related: Was Lou Lamoriello as Good as Maple Leafs Fans Remember?

If we look at Win Percentage in the playoffs for those five general managers, only two had winning percentages above .500%. They are Quinn (.520%) and McNamara (.519%). While Jim Gregory had 22 playoff wins, he also had an astounding 42 playoff losses. If we were to rank the winning percentages for those same general managers, we see the following:

General Manager Win Percentage

Pat Quinn .520

Gerry McNamara .519

Cliff Fletcher .481

Kyle Dubas .423

Jim Gregory .344

Last, all Maple Leafs’ fans know that if you want to win the Stanley Cup you have to make the playoffs. If we look at the general managers who have successfully made it to “The Show” since 1967, here’s how they rank:

General Manager Playoff Appearances

Jim Gregory 8

Pat Quinn 4

Cliff Fletcher 4

Kyle Dubas 4

Gerry McNamara 3

In the Final Analysis

In conclusion, regardless of whether you like the job Dubas has done to date or not, when we include both his regular season success and his playoff failures Kyle Dubas, in only four seasons, has become one of of the most successful general managers the Maple Leafs have had in over half a century. 

ImlachGeorgeTOR
Punch Imlach was successful as a Maple Leafs’ general manager, but at a cost to the team’s reputation.

When the Maple Leafs finally break this first-round jinx and go on a deep playoff run, it will secure Dubas’ legacy as one of the team’s best general managers of all time.

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[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]

The Old Prof

The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).

If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.

Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.

He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf

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