No big deal for Muckler

Sens GM John Muckler will know his future with the organization as early as today. (Sun File/Errol...

Sens GM John Muckler will know his future with the organization as early as today. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:13 PM ET

The Senators' cloudy front-office situation should be cleared up early this afternoon.

Amid rampant speculation about major changes coming to the front office of the Stanley Cup finalists, the Senators have announced a 1 p.m. press conference at Scotiabank Place. It's expected the team will lay out the new structure of its front office and coaching staff, and the changes are expected to be significant.

Not only is the future of GM John Muckler in doubt, sources also say president Roy Mlakar's position is being examined by owner Eugene Melnyk.

Mlakar likely doesn't agree with the decision to remove Muckler from the GM's job. If he's let go, chief operating officer Cyril Leeder is considered a top candidate for the job.

While Mlakar said no final decisions have been made, the Sun reported yesterday that Melnyk told Muckler on Friday he will be replaced. It's believed coach Bryan Murray will be the club's GM, but it's not known if he will keep his duties behind the bench.

Mlakar confirmed late Saturday in an e-mail to the Sun that changes are on the way. Mlakar and Muckler both have one year remaining on their contracts, while Murray's deal expires July 1. Neither Murray nor Muckler would comment yesterday.

It's believed Melnyk would like Murray to perform the dual role of GM/coach, but the 64-year-old Shawville native wouldn't mind giving up his bench duties. If that's the case, Senators assistant John Paddock would be a candidate, but Murray may also look at Claude Julien and former Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth.

While Murray stated publicly last week he was willing to return and had no desire to be GM, sources say Murray's relationship with Muckler has deteriorated over the last 12 months and Melnyk is being forced to make a choice.

Sources say a key factor in Muckler's demise was the inability to get winger Gary Roberts from Florida at the trade deadline in March -- defying specific instructions from Melnyk to do so.

In the end, the Senators refused to give up the No. 1 pick in what's considered a "weak" 2007 draft and instead picked up Oleg Saprykin from the Phoenix Coyotes for a second-round pick in 2008.

An NHL source said yesterday Melnyk summoned Muckler to a meeting in New York a few days after the trade deadline. Muckler was asked to explain why the club didn't get Roberts and "was put on notice then."

Since Melnyk vehemently denied late Saturday he's going to "fire" Muckler, the possibility exists the GM could be asked to step aside and remain on staff as a consultant, as per his contract.


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