Will the Air Canada Centre soon be transformed into Camp Run-A-Muck?
Executives at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the former Ottawa Senators general manager laid low after a scheduled meeting yesterday to discuss a senior advisory position, which would put him atop GM John Ferguson in a re-structured hockey office. Richard Peddie, president and CEO of MLSEL, Muckler and Ferguson did not return calls seeking comment last night.
Muckler is 73 and Ferguson turns 40 today. Yet with several other big names pulling out of the running for various reasons, Muckler could get the job by default. It could be the start of a partnership that, if nothing else, ratchets up the intensity in the Battle of Ontario between the Leafs and Senators.
Peddie said last week that Ferguson was receptive to adding some experience, but others can't see him staying in the organization beyond this season.
It's believed Muckler is not seeking anything more than the advertised advisor's job and not a supreme command post that people such as Scotty Bowman were expected to request.
Muckler maintains an off-season home in the suburbs of Buffalo, near several hockey figures with Leafs ties, including ex-captain Darryl Sittler and broadcaster Harry Neale.
"I spoke to Muck this week, but at the time he had no idea what the position was they were offering," Neale said yesterday.
"I know he doesn't want to retire yet I wouldn't want to comment on anything to do with him and the Leafs, but he's had success in Ottawa and before that, in Buffalo."
As the Leafs tried to sort out their front office, the Senators were tying up loose ends from the decision to replace Muckler with coach Bryan Murray. As expected, Murray yesterday handed the coaching reins to assistant John Paddock.
Paddock, who was interested in the Toronto job early in his coaching career, ran the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes bench from 1991-95, with a stint as GM from 1994-96. The Manitoba native has led three different AHL teams to the Calder Cup.