Hopefully, the Maple Leafs didn't already go green in re-decorating the general manager's office, complete with bars of Irish Spring in the executive washroom.
Brian Burke, who fit all of ownership's criteria to re-energize the hockey team, through bullying or blarney, isn't coming, either next season or possibly ever. Yesterday, he expressed his wish to see out the final year of his contract with the Anaheim Ducks and continue working on an extended pact with them.
What now for the two-man search committee of Richard Peddie and Gordon Kirke? Peddie declined comment last night, but a source close to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., told Sun Media that interviews with other candidates would proceed in the coming weeks.
Something drastic changed in Anaheim the past 24 hours, as Burke had every chance on Tuesday to swear allegiance to the Ducks for next year and waffled. Then yesterday came this statement:
"I work for the best owners in sports (Henry and Susan Samueli). After meeting with (CEO Michael Schulman) this morning, we've decided to end all unnecessary media speculation and commit to working together for at least one more year while continuing to discuss my long-term future with the Ducks."
Perhaps Burke had second thoughts about the task of righting Leafs ship. But if he simply was trying to get the best deal possible on his extension, the Toronto media might have done his work for him. An estimated $23-million US figure for a five-year deal was circulated as the accepted price to get the 2007 Cup champion GM here.
Peddie, the president and CEO of MLSEL, and sports lawyer Kirke now have some interesting choices:
- Wait for the playoffs to run their course and see if any high-profile names become available. Should the Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks go all the way, GMs Ken Holland or Doug Wilson might look to cash in elsewhere.
- Concentrate on unfettered candidates, such as Doug Armstrong or Jim Rutherford.
- Go after team presidential timber such as NHL exec Colin Campbell and sports agent Don Meehan and let them make the call on a GM.
- Stay the course with interim GM Cliff Fletcher.