Can you blame Kyle Dubas for cheering so hard?
When John Tavares scored the overtime winner last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs' general manager reacted like a die-hard fan — lifting his arms to the sky and pumping his fists. "Yeah!" Dubas screamed, multiple times.
After a 19-year drought, his team is finally through to the second round of the playoffs.
The video of Dubas' reaction — part celebration, part huge sigh of relief — has since gone viral.
For hockey lovers in the Sault, Dubas' story is already the stuff of legend. A dressing room attendant for the Soo Greyhounds when he was a teenager, he worked his way up to become the Hounds' general manager before being lured to the Leafs' front office in 2014. Four years later — at the tender age of 32 — Dubas was promoted to GM of the Leafs.
He has lived the past five years under a media microscope, in a hockey-mad market where every decision is dissected and second-guessed. Not once in his tenure had the Leafs won a first-round playoff series.
Until last night.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe — who was hired by Dubas in both the Sault and Toronto — was quick to praise his general manager after the game.
"Kyle did an unbelievable job throughout the offseason and the trade deadline to put us in a position to succeed," Keefe told reporters. "And he — probably more than anybody — deserved to have this result. He has believed in the group, yet he has made adjustments and changes along the way."
Dubas has not yet spoken to reporters about Saturday's historic win. But Leafs fans were definitely speaking for him — chanting has name last night in the streets of downtown Toronto.