Dubas, 37, will oversee all aspects of the Penguins hockey operations department “establishing the strategic vision and philosophy for the franchise,” according to the team.
The Penguins fired president of hockey operations Brian Burke, general manager Ron Hextall and assistant general manager Chris Pryor on April 14. Pittsburgh missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs cut for the for the first time since Sidney Crosby‘s rookie season, a span of 16 years.
Burke had been the first person to ever serve as president of hockey operations for the Penguins.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kyle to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Throughout his career, Kyle has proven himself as a forward-thinking hockey mind and embodies all of the qualities — integrity, intelligence, and an unwavering commitment to building a winning culture — that we value in a leader at the Penguins and within Fenway Sports Group,” Fenway Sports Group principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner said in a joint statement.
“… It did not take long to be impressed by Kyle, the reputation he’s cultivated for himself in and around the National Hockey League, and his vision for the organization on and off the ice. His passion for the sport and ability to foster collaborative relationships with his staff, coaches and players is the type of leadership style that will undoubtedly resonate with the front office and set us on a new path for success in the near-term with our current championship-caliber core and beyond with a commitment to sustainable, long-term success.”
Dubas spent nine seasons with the Maple Leafs, including the last five seasons as general manager. At the time of his hiring, he was the second-youngest general manager in NHL history at age 32. Three of the five most successful regular seasons in team history happened on his watch. Toronto defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2023 playoffs, its first series win since 2004.
But Dubas didn’t have a contract beyond the 2022-23 season. At his final media availability of the season, Dubas said the season was hard on his family and that his next steps would require “a full family discussion.” That said, he indicated that he wanted to remain in Toronto.
“I definitely don’t have it in me to go anywhere else,” Dubas said. “It’ll either be here or it’ll be taking time to recalibrate, reflect on the seasons here. You won’t see me next week pop up elsewhere. I can’t put (my family) through that after this year.”
Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, who promoted Dubas to general manager in 2018, said four days later that the team would seek a new general manager. He cited those comments by Dubas as him wavering on his commitment to the job.
“I think at that point there was a dramatic shift in my thinking as I drove home that night,” Shanahan said. “As Kyle expressed, he may not want to be our GM, and I have to take that very seriously. As I said to him the day before [when we met privately], I understood those feelings [around family] and the pressure … but it was a very real possibility for me at that point I’d be needing to look somewhere else.”
By the time the agent for Dubas presented a new contract proposal to Shanahan later that week, the Leafs president has already decided a split was probable.
“A gap had risen in the contract status,” Shanahan said.
The Leafs announced Wednesday that former Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving had been hired to replace Dubas. Perhaps not coincidentally, Treliving’s introductory news conference was scheduled for minutes after the Penguins announced the executive he’s replacing had joined them.
For Dubas, the task with the Penguins is a considerable one. The team’s legendary core of Crosby (35 years old), Evgeni Malkin (36) and Kris Letang (36) are trying to win one more Stanley Cup together after wins in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
Finding the right mix around them was a challenge that Hextall failed to overcome. Dubas and his eventual general manager will have over $20 million in cap space this offseason. Among their priorities will be a new goaltender and finding a new supporting cast at forward, where only eight players are currently under contract.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is signed through the 2026-27 season and had input on the search for the team’s new executives.
“The rich history of winning and the competitiveness of the coaching staff and players were evident in each conversation I had about this position,” Dubas said in a statement. “The opportunity to work with such passionate and committed people, as well as the established character and leadership of the long-standing core group of talented players, gives me great enthusiasm for the challenge at hand. Our family has been made to feel extremely comfortable throughout this process and we are excited to now call Pittsburgh our home.”
Penguins hire ex-Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas as president