JFJ on his way out?

Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. could be out of a job by the end of the week. (SUN MEDIA FILE/Greg...

Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. could be out of a job by the end of the week. (SUN MEDIA FILE/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

This could be John Ferguson's last week as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Or possibly his last day.

A bevy of sources confirmed yesterday the Leafs are frantically searching for Ferguson's replacement -- either on an interim or permanent basis -- as the team's downward spiral continues.

It's not clear which direction the Leafs are headed, but it is clear the climate for change has become desperate in the wake of a dreadful start that has seen the Leafs win just eight of 24 games to date.

SEARCH IS ON

It isn't known who the Leafs are leaning towards at this point, but they have held informal conversations with NHL vice-president Colin Campbell and television analyst Glenn Healy in recent days while Sun Media also has reported there is interest in up-and-coming, under-contract executives such as Ron Francis in Carolina and Steve Yzeman in Detroit. Another source indicated some interest had been expressed in Hall of Fame player Mark Messier, currently unaffiliated with an NHL team.

Another name that has been brought up is former Leafs star Doug Gilmour, who currently is learning the ropes in the Toronto front office.

While Ferguson has been working the phones trying to make trades -- at the same time admitting change is not apparent -- the situation with coach Paul Maurice is not exactly solid either.

According to a source, Ferguson attempted to have Maurice replaced as coach late last week but was prevented from doing so. After a terrible weekend, Ferguson may make one last ditch effort to change coaches.

"There's a lot going on there right now," said an NHL insider. "You have a general manager who thinks he's provided a coach with good players. You have a coach who the players clearly aren't working for. I could see one fired, the other fired, or both of them fired.

The Leafs play host to the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night. With or without Ferguson.


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