Ferguson's days in Toronto are numbered

Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. speaks at the ACC April 10, 2007. (Toronto Sun file...

Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. speaks at the ACC April 10, 2007. (Toronto Sun file photo/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 10:05 PM ET

Talk shows and frustrated fans aren't the only people conversing about the Maple Leafs these days.

NHL executives have been playing their own game of gossip -- some of it more than gossip -- wondering amongst themselves who will be the next general manager and next coach of the Leafs.

Many are saying they believe change is imminent. But in fairness, that story has been out there for awhile.

All season long, the assumption has been that John Ferguson is basically done as GM of the Leafs. It's only a matter of when. But lately, a lot of questions have been asked about coach Paul Maurice and the thinking amongst some front office people is that Ferguson would fire him if he needed to as a last-ditch attempt to try and save his own position.

Some prominent hockey people have asked the question aloud this week: What would you do if you were running the Leafs? And it isn't being asked rhetorically.

When those questions tend to be asked, it generally means somebody out there is looking for a new GM, maybe a new coach. And maybe, some people think, sooner, rather than later.

THIS AND THAT

Go figure: The Maple Leafs have banned media cameras in their dressing room. Next, they'll be banning cameras from their players ... Doug Armstrong, whose Dallas teams averaged 106 points per season and never once missed the playoffs, was fired as general manager of the Stars this week. Which tells you some teams have higher standards than others ... For the record, there have been 16 NHL GMs fired since the Leafs hired Ferguson, which is a huge departure from the pre-salary cap days when a general manager seemingly had his job for life ... The Phoenix Coyotes may not have gotten better with the waiver pickup of Ilya Bryzgalov yesterday but their dressing room got funnier ... Two things that never seemed to fit, suddenly will: Brett Hull and an expense account ... I now know why Mark Messier cried so much during his Hall of Fame induction speech. If you had to pick up the tab for as many people as Messier did on the weekend, you'd be crying, too ... It's one thing for the Leafs ownership to be perceived negatively in Toronto. It's another when it comes from espn.com's Scott Burnside who, writing from Atlanta, doesn't expect any mid-season changes: "Luckily for both Paul Maurice and GM John Ferguson Jr., ownership couldn't organize a one-car parade."

HEAR AND THERE

The very first thing CFL commissioner Mark Cohon must change in the off-season is this business about suspended players appealing their decisions, and unnamed arbitrators pushing the decisions back to the end of the season. That Jason Jiminez is playing today for the B.C. Lions after severely injuring Anthony Gargiulo of the Stampeders is an embarrassment to the league, to the commissioner and it should to the players, as well ... If that same appeal process were available in the NHL, Chris Pronger would not have sat out two games in two different rounds for the Anaheim Ducks last spring ... Would anyone have believed this when the season began: A possible Grey Cup matchup of Michael Bishop versus Jarius Jackson? ... John Avery couldn't understand why some people were confusing him with Sean Avery this week. Said the running back: "Ain't he white?" .... Here's hoping Toronto can loosen up, put away the briefcases and enjoy Grey Cup Week for what it is, with or without the Argonauts. And we'll see you at the Spirit of Edmonton room ... This should be a no-brainer for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If the Alouettes fire Jim Popp the Ticats should hire him as GM, but not as coach.

SCENE AND HEARD

Do these numbers seem right: As of yesterday, Martin Brodeur was 5-10-1, with no shutouts and a .892 save percentage with the New Jersey Devils ... This is odd: Jason Smith is the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jason Smith is a rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers. Apparently, Rick Ley doesn't think either of them can play ... Won't be easy for Hull in Dallas: The Stars don't have a first-round pick in 2007 or 2008 ... The Edmonton Oilers are in lottery pick position, which could mean an early pick for the Ducks from the Dustin Penner signing. Who would you rather have, Penner or Steven Stamkos? ... Brady Quinn has yet to play a down in the NFL but his No. 10 jersey with the Cleveland Browns is the No. 7 seller among NFL merchandise ... If big-time boxing were more mainstream, we'd still be talking about last Saturday's Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley classic. But every time I mention it to someone I know, I just draw blank stares.

AND ANOTHER THING

So there I was, in my car, listening to Nicky interview Chaser about Hully on the radio. Why does everybody in hockey have a lousy nickname? ... Upon first glance, young Montreal goalie Carey Price leaves the impression he will be the new Peerless Price ... Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov are having career years and still the Leafs are on pace for 28 wins, the fewest since 1990-91 ... Still a teenager, Kevin Durant has played 10 NBA games and has scored more than 18 points in nine of them ... Barry Bonds may not go to jail, but the betting here is he has played his last major-league game ... Never mind their record, the Raptors just don't look right. You have to wonder: Did training camp in Europe put them this far behind or are Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani all off to slow starts? ... Hero of the week: Pitcher Kenny Rogers. He fired the annoying Scott Boras as his agent ... This is why college football in Toronto barely breathes: Manitoba, led by Etobicoke running back Matt Henry, will take on St. Mary's, led by Pickering quarterback Erik Glavic in the Vanier Cup ... And hey, whatever became of Roger Scales?


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