Doug Armstrong will have a dual purpose in scouting the Maple Leafs the next few weeks.
First and foremost, the newly appointed assistant general manager of Team Canada would want to see which Leafs might fit the national team's plan if the Leafs don't rally for a playoff spot. Toronto, which is eight points out of a berth, has seven home games against teams currently out of the top eight positions, starting tonight against the Florida Panthers.
Armstrong and returning GM Steve Yzerman are preparing for the world championships, May 2-18 in Halifax and Quebec City.
But Armstrong, fired early this season by the Dallas Stars, makes no secret of coveting an interview for the full-time position in Toronto down the road. The 44-year-old was a long-time assistant to Bob Gainey in Dallas and had three 100-point seasons in the four full years he was GM. The Sarnia native said he has kept close tabs on the Leafs through the years when both Toronto and the old Minnesota North Stars were in the same division.
"It's one of the most pretigious jobs in the game," Armstrong said yesterday during an interview on Rogers Sportsnet. "I'll go about it day by day. I wish (interim GM) Cliff Fletcher and the Leaf organization well. My body of work speaks for itself. I'd hope ... I would be considered for an interview."
The Stars had a poor start to 2007-08, with a record of 7-7-3 before Armstrong's firing, and they've surged to 24-13-2 under Brett Hull and Les Jackson.
"It (the current record) reflects the staff in Dallas were doing their job," Armstrong said.
He was asked the million dollar question that seems certain to dog every candidate -- can he work with what's perceived as a hands-on board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd?
"You certainly want to know the chain of command," Armstrong said. "But I worked well with people such as (Stars' owners) Tom Hicks, Jim Lites and Norm Green."
Armstrong has enlisted Toronto-based agent Rob Campbell to help his cause.