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You can always bank on the Maple Leafs to make the headlines.

But instead of blowing another postseason lead or simply missing the playoffs all together, the Leafs are making headlines in a much different way: by way of innovation.

 New Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas (via lfpress.com)
On Tuesday, the Leafs announced the hiring of 28-year-old Kyle Dubas to serve as their assistant general manager to GM Dave Nonis. For those who don't know Dubas (which is practically everyone), he's served as the general manager of the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the past three seasons. Dubas is also a major proponent of using advanced statistics and anayltics to break down the game and analyze it through a numbers-based prism, something the Maple Leafs, led by former GM Brian Burke, refused to acknowledge for years had any place in the future of the sport.

The Leafs also sacked VP of Hockey Ops Dave Poulin, as well as assistant GM Claude Loiselle to make room for Dubas. Should'a been hitting ExtraSkater.com, Claude!

With Burke out of town and new team president Brendan Shanahan calling the shots, the Maple Leafs are finished with denying the presence and impact of advanced numbers. By hiring "Boy Wonder," the Leafs are looking to now get with the times and build their team by taking a closer look at Corsi, Fenwick and possession stats.

"Kyle is a young executive that has made a strong name for himself in hockey with a progressive style, work ethic and maturation beyond his years," said Shanahan in the team's press release. "He has a fresh approach that we feel will benefit our club for years to come."

Nonis also spoke glowingly of Dubas, citing his out-of-the-box thinking and potential he has to transform the Leafs:
We’re excited about the addition of an up-and-coming hockey executive in Kyle. He is an innovative thinker that will bring enthusiasm and impressive abilities to our club. His work ethic, character and demonstrated leadership in Sault Ste. Marie make for a valuable combination that will certainly have a positive impact on our organization in many ways.

Dubas will serve as the right hand man to Nonis on all of the decision making for building the Maple Leafs roster in the years to come. And although Dubas isn't the first to live, breathe and die by advanced numbers (the Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups embracing Adv-stats, but do so shrouded in secrecy) he is certainly the first adv-stats supporter to be granted such a prominent position in a franchise. Expect the rest of the teams to follow in Toronto's footsteps.

Take this into consideration, hockey fans: a stats geek who specilizes in a field that is still rebuked and discredited by powerful men in the sport and by millions of fans across the world, has the power to shape the most valued franchise in the entire league through his numbers-based visage. If any of you still think that advanced-stats doesn't have a place in the future of the sport, you may want to reconsider your stance.

The Maple Leafs certainly have.


Mark Burke 7/22/2014 05:25:00 PM Edit

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