An apology from the fans to Leafs GM Kyle Dubas

Ben Hodgson
November 26, 2022  (10:26)

Leafs fans, love us or hate us, are passionate about our team. Sometimes though, we do get a little bit overenthusiastic, especially when the team does something we as a fanbase don't believe will help us win. If 56 years without a Cup won't do that to you, 19 years without a playoff series win will. Is it such a bad thing that we want our team to win? I don't think so. But, at the same time, sometimes we get worked up over the wrong thing. This past summer, we may have gone off the rails a little bit over the Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov deals.

Kyle Dubas is, for the time being, a lame duck GM. He entered the 2022-23 season without a contract extension in place. Some say it was Shanahan's decision, others say it was Dubas' decision. It doesn't really matter and we may never know for sure. What matters is that, with his job on the line, Kyle Dubas took a massive risk. He allowed All-Star goaltender Jack Campbell to walk away from the team in free agency and brought in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov - two goaltenders with a lot of question marks - to replace him. Dubas bet his job on two goalies who were coming off of poor seasons. In Murray's case, it was several injury-ridden seasons that saw his game go downhill in a real hurry. Still, a two-time Cup winner is a two-time Cup winner. For Samsonov, it was inconsistent play that lead to the Washington Capitals choosing not to tender him a qualifying offer. Instead they opted for Stanley Cup winner Darcy Kuemper. An oft-injured 28-year-old and a discarded 25-year-old UFA. That's who Dubas hitched his wagon to and bet his career on. That's not including his third string goalie, Erik Kallgren, who has also played pretty well when the chips were down for the Leafs early.
When news of the Murray deal broke, many in Leafs Nation, including many who had been firmly in Dubas' corner, promptly lost their minds. Dubas was raked over the coals for bringing in a goaltender that many believed was washed up. It was worse that he couldn't even land Murray at 50% retained. Instead, he settled for taking on Murray's deal at 25% retained, also picking up a 2023 3rd round pick and a 2024 7th round pick.
The Samsonov signing was recieved with a little more optimism, but lets be honest, nobody expected the Leafs' goaltending to improve over last season - at least not by the margin that it has. Well Leafs Nation, its time for us, and several sports outlets, to eat our helping of crow.
Yes, we have lost both Murray and Samsonov to injury at times, but both have been stellar for the Leafs this season. Samsonov was a huge part of the Leafs staying in the hunt while the team in front of him spun their tires out of the gate. Murray, to his credit, boasts a 4-0-1 record since returning from a torn adductor and 4-1-1 overall. He has been borderline heroic since returning, especially considering the state of the Leafs defense corps. The Leafs are 2-0 without Rielly, Brodie and Muzzin in the lineup. Both wins are largely due to the outstanding play of Matt Murray.
So, on behalf of Leafs fans everywhere, I would like to say, I'm sorry, Kyle. I'm sorry for doubting you. I'm sorry we were so hard on you for these deals. I'm sorry we were so mad about letting Jack Campbell walk. There is no denying the fact that, when it comes to the Leafs goaltending for this season, and it's early, but you were right. So far, you were right.
The only thing that will truly get Dubas off the hook with the fans is playoff success. The team sits 2nd in the Atlantic at the moment, but are barely hanging on without their top 3 defenders and without much in the way of depth scoring. At this point, the team is being held together by John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander and the seemingly ageless Mark Giordano. The next few weeks will be a torture test of the Leafs' organizational depth and Kyle Dubas' drafting ability. The adversity they face now will tell us a lot about whether or not Dubas deserves to have his contract extended. Heck, it might even be a rallying point for the team. It's time for the Leafs to step up and show us what they're made of. Thanks to Dubas' big goaltending gambles this summer, stopping the puck is one area we shouldn't have to worry about.
Now, everybody knock on wood, throw some salt over their shoulder, spin around three times and pray to the Hockey Gods that nobody else on this cursed team gets hurt.
An apology from the fans to Leafs GM Kyle Dubas

Be honest, did you believe in the Leafs goaltending to start the season?

No, I'm sorry, but I had lost faith in Dubas7613.9 %
I was cautiously optimistic23543.1 %
Yes, Murray and Samsonov were exciting pickups8515.6 %
I was only worried about them staying healthy14927.3 %
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