Sens oust Muckler: NHL execs

John Muckler - GM John Muckler speaks to media about the trade deadline following the Ottawa...

John Muckler - GM John Muckler speaks to media about the trade deadline following the Ottawa Senators practice at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa On March 2, 2007. (Ottawa Sun file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The Senators could announce that general manager John Muckler has been fired by as early as today.

While Muckler wouldn't comment yesterday, referring all questions about his future to team owner Eugene Melnyk, two senior NHL executives told Sun Media they believe Melnyk gave Muckler his walking papers on Friday.

When asked about the rumoured changes, Muckler was vague and maintained: "I haven't been told anything."

Asked if the situation would be clarified by Melnyk today, Muckler didn't shed any light, either.

"I don't know. You'll have to speak to the owner about that," Muckler said.

Melnyk's spokesman, Ken Villazor, did not deny the news, but refused to elaborate.

"The owner has released a statement that he was reviewing all management with the club," Villazor said.

Melnyk has three options with Muckler, 73.

- He can fire Muckler and pay out the one year remaining on his contract, plus a two-year consulting deal.

- He can ask him to step aside as GM and be the team's consultant for the next three years.

- Allow him to finish out the final year of his deal before stepping into the consulting job.

If coach Bryan Murray, 64, is moved up to the front office, it's believed assistant John Paddock could take over the club's coaching duties.

Should he not get the job in Ottawa, Paddock is considered a top candidate for the vacant post with the Boston Bruins after Dave Lewis was fired on Friday.

A league source said Senators president Roy Mlakar met with Melnyk and alternate governor Sheldon Plener Friday in Toronto to discuss a plan of action.

Another source said Murray, whose contract expires July 1, has been dealing directly with Plener on a new deal.

While Melnyk could easily sit still after the club lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Anaheim Ducks in five games, he has to make some decisions because Mlakar's contract is also up in July of 2008.

Murray has got to receive more than a one-year extension.

Muckler said last week he had no desire to leave.

"I'm having too much fun," he said at the club's end of season press conference.

The Senators advanced to the Cup final by losing only three games in winning the East.


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