Close-at-hand candidates if coached gets canned

TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

If the Maple Leafs fire Paul Maurice -- something general manager John Ferguson tried to do earlier this season but was denied by the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. -- they might have to stay within the organization for a successor.

It's hard to say who might want to come aboard from the outside if there is a chance a new general manager would want to bring in his own man for the 2008-09 season.

A glance at the men who could be promoted from within:

GREG GILBERT

Coach, Toronto Marlies

The Port Credit native coached the Calgary Flames for parts of three seasons before he was fired after 25 games in 2002-03. Gilbert coached Worcester of the AHL for four years, compiling at least 34 wins in each, but did not get past the second round of the playoffs. He has guided the Marlies into first place in the AHL's North Division this season and could be the most logical choice.

KEITH ACTON

Assistant coach, Maple Leafs

Acton survived the firings of Pat Quinn and Randy Ladouceur two years ago and is in his eighth season as an assistant. Acton was interviewed for the head coaching job of the Ottawa Senators in 2004 and was thought to be the leading candidate until Bryan Murray was hired. Whether Acton, who can stay in the shadows as an assistant, would want the pressure of being the main guy in Toronto, is another question.

DOUG GILMOUR

Pro development adviser, Leafs

Though it is probable one of the most popular Leafs in team history is being groomed more for a management role of some kind, it might not take much convincing to get him to go behind the bench.

RANDY LADOUCEUR

Assistant coach, Leafs

Maurice hired him as his right-hand man after Ladouceur filled the same role when they were together in Carolina. If Maurice goes, would Ladouceur be asked to leave with him? Perhaps.

DALLAS EAKINS

Assistant coach, Leafs

Eakins has served as the Leafs' eye in the sky, compiling reports from the press box. However, it's hard to see him as head coaching material at this point in time.

JOHN FERGUSON

General manager, Leafs

Pretty funny, eh? Well, imagine if the board looked at him and said: 'Fine, if you want to fix this mess you have created, go behind the bench and do it from there.'" Of course, there has been no shortage of GMs in NHL history who figured they could do it better than the guy they hired, but Ferguson has zero experience.


Videos

Photos