Meeting with the mind

John Muckler will speak to the Maple Leafs today about a possible front office job. (Sun File/Errol...

John Muckler will speak to the Maple Leafs today about a possible front office job. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:48 AM ET

On the eve of John Ferguson's 40th birthday, the Maple Leafs will be speaking to 73-year-old John Muckler for a senior advisor's role to Ferguson with the hockey club.

A source told Sun Media the interview will take place today, just a few days after the Leafs sought permission from the Ottawa Senators to approach Muckler, who was replaced as Senators general manager with coach Bryan Murray. Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and club chairman Larry Tanenbaum are expected to conduct the interview.

Ferguson, whose youth and inexperience often are cited by critics as the reasons the Leafs have not turned the corner to a playoff spot the past two years, turns 40 tomorrow and will be starting his fifth year with the club next month. Whether he finishes the last year of his contract will depend on what kind of clout the new man gets, whether it's as an advisor or an all-powerful team president who would replace Ferguson and fill the hockey office with his own hirings.

The latter was the role that Scotty Bowman sought during exploratory talks with MLSEL, before deciding he was happy in the Detroit Red Wings organization. The bigger job also was what Nashville Predators general manager David Poile wanted, but sources told Sun Media yesterday that he backed away because the Preds might not be leaving Nashville.

With Jim Balsillie's Canadian bid and another from Kansas City pointing toward a move out of Nashville, Poile had wavered about staying. But in the past few days, with a local group headed by health care executives David Freeman and Herb Fritch making a strong pitch, Poile feels obligated to stay.

Senators president and CEO Roy Mlakar told the Canadian Press yesterday that more than one team had inquired about hiring Muckler, but did not elaborate. CP also reported that former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke had not heard back from the Leafs since a third party contacted him about a possible role in May.

"I told him if the Leafs wanted to talk to me, I'd certainly welcome sitting down and talking to them," Clarke said. "But I haven't heard anything from them."


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