Sometimes, doing the right thing and potentially getting rewarded for it go hand-in-hand. That could be what’s going on this week as word of Kyle Dubas’ goodwill is spreading quickly around the NHL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM recently spent forward Ilya Mikheyev’s entire recovery time in New Jersey with his injured player. Having just undergone emergency surgery to repair torn tendons in his wrist, Dubas realized his player could use a friend. And, that’s exactly what he did when he simply could have acted as the “GM”.
Knowing Mikheyev didn’t speak English well, was likely missing his family and probably scared that his NHL career (potentially his professional hockey career) was in jeopardy, Dubas stayed with Mikheyev. The gesture was noticed by Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey, who also happens to be Mikheyev’s agent and the agent for a number of other Russian players. As Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports, Milstein has told his clients about how well Mikheyev was treated and how Dubas went beyond what was expected. Johnston notes this could be a long-term win for Toronto when he writes:
The agent has KHL free agents currently drawing significant NHL interest for next season and has made sure they’re all aware of the humanity the Leafs exhibited with Mikheyev, telling them: “You should know how Toronto took care of this particular accident.”
Does This Guarantee Mikheyev Returns to Toronto?
Of course, what Dubas did here is offer no guarantees. That said, it certainly ups the odds Mikheyev will look to them first when it comes time to re-sign in the NHL. And, there will be plenty of teams interested in his services considering how well he was playing before he got injured.
When Mikheyev has team after team lining up to offer him a deal, Dubas ensured he at least gets a better look than everyone else. He’s also scored major points with other KHL free agents, many of whom the Maple Leafs may look to as a way to inexpensively bolster their roster and surround their high-ticket NHL stars with players who can produce.
But, as news also breaks that three players out of the Maple Leafs organization are looking for a change of scenery — Jeremony Bracco, Dmytro Timashov and Ben Harpur — the Maple Leafs are clearly not seen as a team that does the right thing by everyone.