The Toronto Maple Leafs have been without a championship for over five decades and GM Kyle Dubas is looking to his city counterpart for experience to end that streak.
In the same building the Leafs call home, the Toronto Raptors were able to go on a postseason run last summer that ended with a seemingly improbable NBA championship. One of the key figures in bringing the Raptors their first title was GM Bobby Webster, who has a lot in common with Dubas.
Both became high-level executives in their sport before the age of 30 and are seen in their relative leagues as up-and-comers who will find success — although Webster has already done so.
“What I’ve learned from the Raptors, what I’ve learned from Bobby, Masai [Ujiri], and Teresa [Resch] is the patience and the hard work and the toughness as a management group,” Dubas told The Athletic.
“And what I mean by toughness is the ability to stick with it when people are telling you you have to change all the time — and then being able to have the belief in your management group and your operation, to make major moves when you need to, even when people are criticizing them vastly.”
The Leafs will always have plenty of eyes on them and with that comes constant scrutiny, even for things that are part of the ebbs and flows of a regular season — if they lose in horrible fashion, everything must change.
Both franchises have had significant struggles in the postseason and that has affected some of the 34-year-old’s vision. But Dubas continues to look at the Raptors as a prime example of how to cope with recurring misfortune.
“You’re developing a resiliency and you’re building up your experience,” said Dubas.
“As you go through disappointment and as you have areas where your team falls short, in their case their hump was Cleveland and LeBron … but you listen to Bobby and Masai, it was never, ‘We have to beat Cleveland.’ Their goal was to win a championship,” said Dubas.
“So with us, it’s ‘You have to get past the first round, you have to get past Boston.’ That would be nice, of course — but it’s not really what we’re aspiring to. That’s part of the process.”
In their last four playoff appearances, the Leafs have had to face the Bruins in three of them and they all wound up going Boston’s way after seven games. The Raptors had their season ended by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in three consecutive years, including back-to-back sweeps.
The Raptors were able to overcome their disappointment and time will tell if Dubas can achieve that with the Leafs.
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