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Toronto Maple Leafs hire Brad Treliving as GM at a critical juncture

TORONTO — Brad Treliving has a new gig. And the Maple Leafs have a new plan. Treliving was named Toronto's general manager Wednesday, less than two weeks after a jaw-dropping chain of events led to the firing of Kyle Dubas.
Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving addresses the media following a NHL hockey practice Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jeffrey T. Barnes

TORONTO — Brad Treliving has a new gig. And the Maple Leafs have a new plan.

Treliving was named Toronto's general manager Wednesday, less than two weeks after a jaw-dropping chain of events led to the firing of Kyle Dubas.

The 53-year-old Treliving left the Calgary Flames in April following nine seasons that included five playoff appearances and two 100-point campaigns.

"Brad brings a wealth of knowledge from his years of experience," Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a release. "He has earned tremendous respect amongst his peers throughout his years in the NHL and has built excellent relationships at all levels within the game."

Treliving joins the Leafs at a crucial juncture in the wake of Shanahan's stunning Dubas dismissal on May 19.

The Original Six franchise, whose Stanley Cup drought stands at 56 painful years, won a playoff series for the first time in nearly two decades with a victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring, but then bowed out to the Florida Panthers.

Dubas, who had been Toronto's GM since 2018 and didn't have a contract beyond June 30, suggested at a bizarre end-of-season press conference on May 15 he wasn't sure he wanted to remain in the role — at least in part because of the stress on his young family.

A roller-coaster five days followed, with Shanahan ultimately firing the 37-year-old despite previously wanting to keep his GM, and the now-unemployed executive eventually indicating to his boss he wished to stay.

Treliving is the third GM — joining Dubas and Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello — hired in Toronto by Shanahan, whose so-called "Shanaplan" aimed at getting the storied franchise back on its feet when he came on board in 2014 has seen unparalleled regular-season success, but just that solitary series victory in eight attempts.

"I'm thrilled to join an Original Six team and recognize how much the Maple Leafs mean to this community," Treliving, who will meet the media alongside Shanahan on Thursday, said in the statement announcing his hire as the 18th GM in franchise history.

"This is a very exciting day for my family and I."

The Penticton, B.C., product also has a lot to chew on as he settles into Scotiabank Arena.

Treliving, who served in the Phoenix Coyotes' front office for seven seasons before arriving in Calgary, will have to decide the future of Dubas loyalist and head coach Sheldon Keefe, while stars Auston Matthews and William Nylander can sign contract extensions with one year remaining on their current deals as of July 1.

Matthews and Mitch Marner, who is two years out from unrestricted free agency, have full no-movement clauses ready to kick in the same day. Nylander will have a 10-team list.

The NHL draft is set for the end of June in Nashville, and the Leafs have 12 roster players primed to hit the free-agent market at noon ET on Canada Day.

The Flames, who missed the playoffs this season, won the Pacific Division in 2021-22 under Treliving's guidance before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round.

Johnny Gaudreau then blindsided the organization by leaving Calgary for the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency last summer. Fellow star forward Matthew Tkachuk added another devastating body blow by informing the team he didn't plan to re-sign.

Treliving, whose father, Jim, is the Boston Pizza chain owner and a former "Dragon's Den" regular, subsequently dealt the winger to Florida as part of a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar heading to southern Alberta.

Tkachuk, a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate as playoff MVP, and the Panthers open the Cup final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

Calgary went 362-265-73 during the regular season under Treliving, who served as co-GM of Canada's gold-medal entry at the 2016 men's world championships in Russia.

He also co-founded the Western Professional Hockey League in 1996 and served as the league's vice-president and director of hockey operations.

Treliving helped with the merger of the WPHL and the Central Hockey League in 2001, and was then named CHL president — a position he held for seven years before joining the Coyotes.

Despite the departures of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, the Flames looked like contenders on paper ahead of the 2022-23 season.

The acquisition of Huberdeau, who inked an eight-year, US$84-million contract extension with the Flames last August, and the signing of centre Nazem Kadri was expected to fill the void left by Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but the mix wasn't right for a group led by hard-nosed coach Darryl Sutter.

Huberdeau and Kadri finished well off their career-high points totals of the previous season — the former went from 115 with Florida to 55 in Calgary — while sub-par goaltending was an issue much of the campaign.

That chapter firmly closed, Treliving now turns his attention to Toronto.

Just like last summer, he has plenty on his plate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2023.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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