Leafs' search for GM rolls on

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Like a train rolling through the countryside, the Maple Leafs' search for a general manager continues to chug along.

But Gord Kirke, who is getting close to completing research of prospective candidates, said yesterday the recent retaining of Brian Burke in Anaheim did not shove the plans off the rails.

"No, it didn't," Kirke said. "A lot of the candidates the media have speculated about are under contract. He would be on anybody's list."

The general assumption was the Leafs had Burke as their No. 1 target with everyone else lumped into another group. No interviews with candidates have taken place, and Kirke indicated the Leafs might not kick into that gear until the 2008 playoffs are finished.

"Then you would have the full range of people available to you," Kirke said. "It's important not to rush into a mistake."

Of course, not all people who could be interviewed by the Leafs have teams in Stanley Cup contention. Among those looking for work include Dave Nonis, Doug Armstrong and Neil Smith. Colin Campbell is another whose name has drawn strong links to the GM vacancy with the Leafs. Kirke said the team hasn't received any unsolicited resumes for the job.

Then there are Ken Holland, Lou Lamoriello and Jim Rutherford, all of whom have been mentioned as possibilities.

Kirke reiterated the Leafs' plan is to have a new GM in place by the end of the summer. If that is seen through, interim GM Cliff Fletcher and assistant GM Jeff Jackson would lead the club through the draft and the crucial days of free agency. Jackson has had brief talks with Pat Morris, the agent for forward Matt Stajan, about a new contract for the 24-year-old. Stajan is slated to be a restricted free agent this summer.

Meanwhile, though the topic of captain Mats Sundin and his engagement to girlfriend Josephine Johansson was treated as news in some corners yesterday, readers of the Toronto Sun learned of the engagement on April 6 when it was reported by Steve Simmons.

J.P. Barry, Sundin's agent, told the Fan 590 yesterday that he thinks Sundin will play in the NHL again before he is married. But Barry indicated he won't have a definitive answer from Sundin regarding his playing future until early June.

And it's clear the Leafs have some stiff competition in the race for the services of Swedish free agent Fabian Brunnstrom. Barry, also Brunnstrom's agent, confirmed that Brunnstrom has had or will have meetings this week with the Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens.

"Right now he wants to focus on those three places," Barry said. "I want to make sure he makes the best decision for himself. Toronto is one of the ones we are comparing (with other teams). (Playing for the Leafs) would be a great opportunity for him. He is at the point now where he really wants to make a decision."


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