After a whirlwind couple of days when it seemed Brian Burke was Toronto-bound, it's likely Cliff Fletcher will continue holding the interim general manager's post into July or August.
"There's always a (media) over-reaction here," Fletcher said with a chuckle yesterday. "I don't know whether Brian's announcement (that he's staying in Anaheim) has any significance for me. I'm just happy to do the job until they tell me otherwise."
After two days of waffling on whether he might leave the Ducks, Burke suddenly expressed a desire to fulfill the final year on his contract and seek an extension, no doubt urged by Anaheim's ownership, which has no qualified successor on hand.
But Fletcher is sticking to the belief that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. picks the new president/GM before training camp.
Leafs fave for Fabian?
The bright lights of the Air Canada Centre are luring Fabian Brunnstrom.
But the Swedish free agent maintains he'll go to the NHL team that gives him the best opportunity to break in right away.
"Toronto is, how do you call it, the hockey Mecca," Brunnstrom told Sun Media yesterday from Sweden. "I know all the things that Mats Sundin has done there. I'm still considering my options, but if I (commit to coming over) I don't want to go back."
Fletcher says Toronto remains high on a very short list of clubs to sign Brunnstrom. One contender, the Detroit Red Wings, apparently have told Brunnstrom he would likely start on the farm, while the Leafs can offer the 23-year-old winger, a Swedish League rookie of the year candidate with the Farjestads club, the chance to step right in the lineup.
Brunnstrom noted he'd be among up to five Swedes on the Leafs if Mats Sundin comes back, but that none of them have called to influence his decision. Agent J.P. Barry is expected to announce a decision next week.
COLLECTING GOALIE POGGE
Fletcher says he won't interfere with Marlies coach Greg Gilbert's decision to use goalie Scott Clemmensen and put young prospect Justin Pogge on the unemployment line through the first four games of the AHL playoffs. The best of seven series sits 2-2 with Game 5 tonight.
"At this time of year, I believe managers manage, coaches coach and players play," Fletcher said. "Greg is using the goalie he thinks gives him the best chance to win. If there's (a player personnel issue), we'll address it during the off-season. Bottom line, Greg's comfortable with the decision and (to try and please Pogge or management) isn't fair to the other 23 guys who are trying to win."
DRAFT RATES A D FOR LEAFS
The Leafs likely are looking at a defenceman when the seventh overall pick comes around on June 20. The final Central Scouting rankings were released yesterday, and while it's no surprise that Sarnia Sting centre Steve Stamkos placed first, the next five North Americans are defencemen Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo. If top-ranked European forward Nikita Filatov gets in somewhere between 1-6 or there's a surprise pick after Stamkos, one or two of those top five defenceman should be there for the Leafs.
Guelph Storm's Thomas McCollum was listed as best North American goalie, but isn't likely to go at the top.
Eric Staal does not relish choosing between brothers Jordan and Marc as they prepare to clash in the Penguins-Rangers series.
"One's moving on and one's going home," said Eric, whose Carolina Hurricanes didn't make the playoffs this year. "I feel worse for my parents."