Leafs GM wish list

Brian Burke will be revealed as the candidate of choice to become the next president and GM of the...

Brian Burke will be revealed as the candidate of choice to become the next president and GM of the Leafs. SUN MEDIA/Brian Donogh

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:01 PM ET

The worst-kept secret in Toronto hockey will be front and centre today when lawyer Gord Kirke makes his presentation to the board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

In that meeting, Brian Burke of the Anaheim Ducks will be revealed as the two-man search committee's candidate of choice to become the next president and general manager of the Maple Leafs.

Kirke, along with fellow committee member Richard Peddie, will reveal the process he undertook to get to this point: Who the candidates are, how they were identified, and where the Leafs go from here.

Rather than interview candidates, Kirke has been on a fact-finding, note-taking, journey throughout the hockey world, meeting with players, scouts, agents, hockey executives, journalists, former hockey executives, and one meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

While typically, Kirke has been close-mouthed about his meetings, hockey people don't tend to be so lawyerly in their ways. And while we can't provide you with the actual list Kirke will present today, by putting enough information together we can, at least, provide our own version of what the list might look like.

The likely ranking of contenders on the Leafs Wish List:

1. Brian Burke, Anaheim Ducks:

The feeling is the Leafs need a strong, aggressive, independent, bully-like general manager to take over this muddled mess and Burke fits the bill. Nobody is more suited to deal from the inside with MLSEL, from the outside with media, and with a strong vision of what he wants to accomplish. He changed the entire culture in Anaheim in a very short time. He won't have similar assets to start with here.

2. Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings:

Holland has the best record in hockey in the time he has run the Wings. He has done a superb job compiling excellent teams, and more than that, has built an organization that is the deepest in the game in hockey minds. Holland is an excellent consensus manager, who listens to all opinions, before making decisions. If Kirke thought he was available or interested in the Leafs job, he might be No. 1 on the list.

3. Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils:

Lamoriello is included here as a courtesy. No one actually believes he would ever leave the cult he has created in New Jersey. But he has had tremendous success in building quality teams and developing a club identity. He is, actually, Burke's mentor, having coached him at Providence College and being the impetus behind Burke becoming a lawyer.

4. Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks:

The MLSEL people have said they want the hockey version of Bryan Colangelo. There may not be such a man, but Wilson may be the closest. He has built a strong San Jose team, developing his own players but proving he can make significant trades in a difficult trading environment. Not formally educated, Wilson grew up in the NHL and has flourished in the management environment.

5. Jim Rutherford, Carolina Hurricanes:

This is a name that keeps being mentioned for the Leafs job, but you have to wonder why. Yes, the Hurricanes have won a Stanley Cup and played for one in recent years. But yes, they also have missed the playoffs the past two years. Rutherford has a record with more blemishes than highs, but some hockey people continue to push him for the job.

6. Colin Campbell, senior vice-president, NHL:

Here is the Leafs' fall-back position. If you can't get your Top 5, you go next door and take from the league's front office. Many, including commissioner Bettman, have pushed Campbell for this position. The knock against him is he never has run a team before, which goes against Peddie's criteria but what may also work against him is his tendency to be press-sensitive.

7. Don Meehan, player agent:

Another who quietly covets the position of running the local team. Meehan long has been considered one of the most influential and controversial agents in the game and knows this team and its weaknesses as well as anyone. Former agents such as Burke and Pierre Lacroix have been successful moving to clubs. Why not Meehan?


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