Leafs look to the stars to replace Fergie

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

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

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

If the Toronto Maple Leafs fire GM John Ferguson Jr., they won't put just anybody on the Hogtown hotseat.

The talk among league executives is the Leafs won't make a move on the GM front unless they secure a big name -- such as Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman or Ron Francis, a former Leaf -- to take the reins.

"The Leafs need to have somebody with star power," said an NHL executive.

"If they're going to put somebody into that seat who hasn't done it before, they need to have a marquee name."

The Dallas Stars' decision to hire a star in Brett Hull as co-GM alongside Les Jackson could become a trend.

Former Leafs goalie Glen Healy, currently an analyst on TSN, has also been mentioned as a top candidate if Ferguson is fired.

Francis might make the most sense because he has been working in the Carolina front office.

AROUND THE BOARDS: All Capitals GM George McPhee did by firing coach Glen Hanlon was buy time. The whisper is owner Ted Leonsis has already initiated the search for a new GM and all McPhee is doing is keeping the seat warm. Don't be surprised if former No. 1 pick Brian Lawton gets a look. Lawton was an agent with Octagon Hockey, but stepped down to pursue an opportunity in management. Other candidates include TSN analyst Pierre McGuire and former Islanders GM Mike Milbury, who is also working for the network ... Expansion isn't on the agenda at the league's board of governors meeting in Pebble Beach this week, but that doesn't mean it won't be discussed. Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't want word leaking to the media about possible expansion, so he sometimes doesn't bother putting

it on the agenda. Las Vegas, Kansas City and Oklahoma City have all made pitches, but only two are expected to get franchises. Some governors favour contraction over expansion because empty seats in such places as Nashville and Florida don't help the league grow revenues. Pending sales of the Predators, to a group of local investors, and the Lightning, to former Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean, haven't been finalized because neither bid has financing in place.

OFF THE GLASS: Michel Therrien's days behind the Penguins bench could be numbered. The talk is players are getting tired of Therrien's constant yelling and screaming. There's talk GM Ray Shero might be willing to take a chance on Rochester coach Randy Cunneyworth, a former Penguin. Shero, who started his hockey career as an agent, was a business partner with Cunneyworth's former agent, Steve Bartlett ... Talks to keep Sabres D Brian Campbell from testing the unrestricted free-agent market next summer continue. He's willing to accept a five-year, $25 million (all terms US) deal, but he could get more on the market. He'll be one of the top blueliners available next summer, along with the Senators' Wade Redden and the Lightning's Dan Boyle ... The Bruins doubt C Patrice Bergeron (post-concussion) will play again this season.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: Did Ducks GM Brian Burke really give away G Ilja Bryzgalov on waivers? The story making the rounds is the Ducks agreed to take D Brian Sutherby from the Caps for a second-round pick so McPhee would pass on Bryzgalov. That allowed the Coyotes to pick up the netminder off waivers. The belief is Phoenix GM Don Maloney will send something

Anaheim's way at the trade deadline when the Ducks have a little more money to spend. It's also believed part of the reason Burke placed Bryzgalov on waivers is G Jonas Hiller was threatening to accept a $1.5-million contract in Russia. If a player leaves for Russia, his NHL club has no recourse because there's no agreement with the IIHF ... The Penguins have quietly been looking for a goalie with Marc-Andre Fleury struggling. The word is they've contacted UFA Curtis Joseph, who's been skating at his Toronto-area home. The 40-year-old Joseph could be brought in as a mentor for Fleury ... It's believed Senators GM Bryan Murray called the Coyotes during camp and offered to move either Ray Emery or Martin Gerber when the club felt it was going to have to deal one of its netminders. Sources say Phoenix wanted the Senators to take either D Derek Morris or D Nick Boynton along with another player in return .. Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough is desperately looking for a top centre. The Wild had just one win in eight games going into last night's tilt at Nashville and has been decimated by injuries ... Is Olaf Kolzig on the move? That's likely up to him. The veteran goaltender has been a good soldier for the Capitals, but he'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Making $5.45 million this season, Kolzig has always maintained he wants to finish his career with one team, but there's a strong belief the Caps might give him the chance to exit. The word is Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe has been casting covetous glances in Kolzig's direction because -- among other things -- the Oilers haven't been happy with the performance of either Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon.

Have a nice Sunday.


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