Are Dubas and Babcock, Tavares on a collision course ?

With Babcock complaining he doesn't have " enough heavy skaters " and Dubas saying " he just doesn't buy it.", something may have to give. The Toronto Maple Leafs have skill to burn, four lines deep even but do they have the right balance ? The Leafs have now lost three out of four games beating only a Pettersson - less Vancouver team who claimed travel hurt their play in a 5 to 0 crushing. Dubas has acknowledged he covets a defenseman, apparently a right shooting one. Few would argue with that statement but the concern is that teams now target stars such as Auston Mathews without fear of retribution. Toronto also had John Tavares state " We need more grit." Toronto is not that strong on the boards and may be missing JVR and his ability to drive the net at times.

The question is, can the Toronto Maple Leafs contend this year? The answer is yes and they have no choice. The truth is anything can happen.No one truly knows the future.Wayne Gretzky got traded and both stars Mitch Marner, Auston Mathews as well as winger Kasperi Kapanen are due a big pay raise. Dubas says he isn't worried about offer sheets from other GM's hungry to lure a star into town and make the playoffs. What happens if someone offers star Center Auston Mathews $14 million per year ? Or for that matter Mitch Marner gets offered $11 Million ? How much does Kapanen want to stay ? No one really knows and it is possible this team could start to implode as early as this summer. This Leaf team has to take the chance while the chance is there and while they have the kids on the cheap. The kids need to be tested to see what they have and challenged in order to grow. This is afterall Toronto, and I haven't seen a chance like this since 1993. That is a long time ago. Many are concerned that Toronto might struggle in a 7 game series against some of the tougher opponents such as Boston, Washington and Tampa Bay. Not to mention Crosby and his suddenly hot Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of 8 straight.

If Toronto lost in the first round again it would not be pretty and the vultures would be looking for blood. The pressure is immense in Toronto and the fans even boo the second place team when they have a bad game. Could you imagine if Dubas ignored Mike Babcock and John Tavares only to watch his stars get injured, pushed around and then lose in the first round ? There would be some egg on someone's face and most likely it would be Dubas. People might play the " He is inexperienced" card ,especially if they lost in the first round to ex GM Lou Lamoriello and the suddenly surging New York Islanders. One has to pick one's battles and Dubas might be wise to concede to Babcock's and Tavares' demands.

Toronto has the pieces such as Jeremy Bracco who is playing well in the AHL with the Marlies. The Leafs will likely lose a good player in the upcoming ,Seattle expansion draft. It is good to be patient but not if the opportunity passes you by. If Toronto can add some rentals such Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds and a veteran defenseman, I highly doubt the Leaf fans would hold it against him. If  Dubas does nothing and losses because a star gets injured or the Leafs get worn down by a bigger team, the Leaf fans will jump him and not coach Babcock. The coach isn't responsible for the product on the ice. His job is to optimize what he has. But if the coach and veteran Center John Tavares both express a need and it is ignored that falls on the GM. Toronto fans by and large are ready to go for it now. Anything can happen but Washington took decades to win before they finally woke up and got more beef in their line up, even re signing Pelly- Smith to a one year deal. The choice Dubas faces is does he hold on to assets and keep drafting or does he protect his stars while helping his team avoid injuries ? The right player could also help their power play and their corner work while helping their stars avoid unneeded injuries or even targeting.

While Dubas may or may not buy it , Coach Mike Babcock and veteran John Tavares clearly do. One also has to wonder how Shanahan, a former big, tough scoring winger views things. Dubas may be playing possum, after all he was trained by Lou. At the end of the day if he doesn't address these concerns the blame should the Leafs exit early will fall on the inexperienced GM and in Toronto, the center of the hockey universe that won't be easy to live down.I'm betting Dubas sees the light and is just waiting for the right trades at the right cost while waiting for trade deadline since the Leafs are in a comfortable spot right now, in second place at this writing. While Dubas may feel pressure from Babcock and Tavares he will surely preach patience just as Lou would have taught him to do. Fret not Leaf fans, when the time comes The Leafs will add the pieces at a price that makes sense and if they do they have a real chance to get to the Stanley cup or at least win one round, helping the kids to grow. In the brutal East this year anyone could beat almost anyone. Anyone could get injured, worn down or lose a key player. It is the kind of year whoever is the most healthy could easily win and if by some miracle they made it out of the East the odds are whoever wins the West this year won't be nearly as tough as the teams in the East. Toronto needs to progress this year, they need to win a round or two. Leaf fans also have to be patient, Dubas may have to find a way to unload defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and his $ 4.5 Million a year contract that he inherited. If he can do that, he not only will look brilliant he will have the needed cap space to add what Toronto clearly needs. Toronto is need of a veteran top 3 defenseman and a top 9 "heavy skating " forward. Toronto has clearly missed Zach Hyman and injuries will likely play a factor in this year's playoffs. If Dubas sits idle many of us feel a first round exit is highly possible and the fallout from that in Toronto would be immense.

Footnote: In a 4 to zero loss to Nashville coach Babcock lamented " It was men versus boys." Hint,hint.

Nashville 4 Toronto 0

Click ===== > Preds 4 Leafs 0

New Pinterest : Signs of the end times / Prophecy

Click ===== > End times alert !

Metallica - The four horsemen

Click ===== > They are here!