Thanksgiving in the United States is usually synonymous with celebrations and gatherings, and in the case of Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas, the “fun” will come in the form of a visit from some very familiar faces on Saturday: those of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Indeed, the club that counted on Dubas as GM for nine years will visit PPG Paints Arena for the first clash against Sidney Crosby’s gang this season. And even if the leader will not be on the ice at the beginning of the match, it will certainly have a special flavor. Although the relationship between the 37-year-old and his former organization ended on a sour note after the Leafs were eliminated in the second round of the 2023 playoffs, the Ontario team’s players have a favorable opinion of him.
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“Kyle meant a lot to us and believed in a lot of us,” forward Mitch Marner told the Toronto Sun. If I see him, I’ll greet him and say good luck, like last summer.”
Aside from No. 16, picked a year after Dubas arrived in Toronto as an assistant GM, defenseman Morgan Rielly had good words for his former boss. “I really admired him, I appreciated his way of working, believing that he did an excellent job,” he said.
“(Except that it remains) a business issue. You have to move forward. Who knows? Maybe our paths will cross again. There are a lot of things to deal with, and from our side, we care about what we do.”
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Moreover, since his NHL debut in Toronto in 2013, Rielly has known several people in the franchise’s upper echelons. In the 2012 amateur auction, Brian Burke was the GM. He subsequently dealt with Dave Nonis, then the combination of Brendan Shanahan-Mark Hunter-Kyle Dubas, as well as Lou Lamoriello and Dubas.
“You just have to stay in control as a player. We don’t have to change anything, said the one with Brad Treliving as CEO today. Once you answer the question of what the Directorate General should be, you are off track. We have to stay consistent with who we are, regardless of the style of play. You can’t change depending on who your boss is.”
The TVA Sports channel broadcasts the game on Saturday at 7 p.m.