Ferguson talks to pair

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

While Paul Maurice remains the Maple Leafs most logical choice for the vacant head coaching position, general manager John Ferguson apparently has held discussions with several other candidates as well.

According to NHL sources, Ferguson has talked with both Marc Crawford and Andy Murray recently during his hunt for a new bench boss.

Crawford is no stranger to the Leafs organization, having coached their St. John's farm club at one time. After winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, Crawford spent a number of successful seasons behind the Vancouver Canucks bench before being fired last month.

Murray, meanwhile, was relieved of his duties by the Los Angeles Kings late in the 2005-06 regular season after an impressive stint out on the left coast.

Ferguson, who did not return calls last night, has claimed all along that chatting with other available coaches is part of "the process."

Nevertheless, Maurice remains the top dog in the search for a coach and could be officially named to the post by the end of the month.

"What's taking so long?" a chuckling forward Jeff O'Neill said. "Why don't they just name (Maurice)?"

O'Neill, who underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday, claimed reports of his rocky relationship with Maurice during their days with the Carolina Hurricanes were greatly exaggerated.

"That was all blown out of proportion," he said. "We got along fine. He's a really good coach."

Earlier in the week Ferguson reportedly stated that he was planning to meet with Maurice in the coming days.

Maurice's contract allows a window, starting on June 1, for him to talk to other teams about their coaching vacancies.

But Maurice and his wife, Mitch, have little interest in moving their three children from Oakville.


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