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Maple Leafs GM takes blame for team's tough season

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, left, sits alongside president and alternate governor Brendan Shanahan during a news conference in Toronto on May 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Who stays and who goes? That’s the first step in what promises to be another long off-season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as their hopes for the Stanley Cup come to an end.

GM Kyle Dubas was trying to diffuse some of the panic at a news conference on Thursday, saying when it comes to every area of struggle on the ice this year: “If there’s blame to go around, it should go to me.”

Dubas and coach Mike Babcock both maintain they have a solid relationship, but the GM wouldn’t lean either way about the future for anyone.

“With how fluid the situation is, I wouldn’t give any guarantee with anyone in our organization, starting with me,” the GM said.

Moving forward, it’s all about what the lineup will look like next season, with winger Mitch Marner contract talks at the forefront.

“Mitch is priority one, so without an answer on Mitch we are going to be at a stalemate,” Dubas said.

Although plenty of criticism has been levelled at Jake Gardiner during the playoffs, Dubas said he has been a “driving force” for the Leafs and has been key in turning the Leafs around.

Dubas also said forward William Nylander wasn’t set up to have a good season.

“I think the blame for the situation going that far has to go to me. I don’t think it set William up to have a good season,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the team announced that forward Zach Hyman will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL. Hyman suffered the injury during the Maple Leafs’ first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, which came to an end after the Bruins’ Game 7 win Tuesday night.