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It was one of the biggest free agent signings in Toronto Maple Leafs history in the summer of 2018, when new general manager Kyle Dubas was able to lure Ontario native and former New York Islanders captain John Tavares back home with a hefty seven year, $77 million pact.
And while there were more than a few detractors of the deal considering the fact that Toronto already had ample depth at the center position, Tavares has worked out well for the Leafs in terms of regular season play. In three of his five years with the Leafs so far, he's eclipsed the 75 point mark. And this season, he played a key role in helping the Leafs advance past Round 1 of the postseason for the first time sine 2004 by scoring the OT series-winning goal against the Lightning late last month.
But the Leafs are clearly now in a period of transition that could bring big changes to the franchise. A major change has already been made with the termination of Dubas by team president Brendan Shanahan, and it's been speculated by one particular NHL Insider that whomever Toronto's next general manager is may have to make a tough decision regarding Tavares' future with the Leafs.
According to Nick Kypreos, the Tavares signing was a major mistake by Dubas due to the fact that in his view, it disrupted the chemistry of the team that was already led by the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. An excerpt from his opinion piece in today's Toronto Star:
Far too many aspects of success in sports can now be determined by a simple algorithm. But do the mathematicians developing these stats know what it takes to look each other in the eye in the dressing room and demand more on the ice? Call me old-fashioned but that’s real chemistry, and it cannot be undersold or taken for granted."
"The Leafs never quite nailed that part this season, with coach Sheldon Keefe unable to find the right mix for his lines and defence pairings. Individually, the Leafs have great talent, but somehow it never meshed. In Keefe’s defence, the Leafs’ chemistry problems started long before he was behind the bench."
"It always seemed to me that Tavares’s arrival altered the dynamics of the Leafs’ two young superstars. One of Dubas’s biggest mistakes was bringing in Tavares as a mentor to Matthews and Marner before having the two under contract and putting them in the right pecking order."
Leafs fans, did Dubas make a mistake by potentially messing with the team chemistry with the Tavares contract?