Leafs put Fabian behind

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

As the Dallas Stars slammed the Maple Leafs' door on Fabian Brunnstrom, the Leafs might have been unrolling a welcome mat for Dave Nonis.

Speculation is percolating that Nonis will be in Toronto early next week, possibly on Monday, for an interview with the Leafs regarding the vacant general manager's job.

During an interview on Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040 yesterday, Nonis was asked about the stories that have linked him to the Leafs. Toronto asked the Canucks for permission to speak to Nonis, who was fired as GM of the Canucks a few weeks ago. But Nonis said the Leafs did not have to have permission to talk to him, and that the request was done out of courtesy.

"I haven't spoken to Toronto about their intentions," Nonis said. "If they do decide to bring me in and tell me what they think, at that point there would be a decision to make."

Nonis said he had not talked to Brian Burke about the possibility of working together again. Ownership in Anaheim has taken a hard line in its desire to have Burke work through the final year of his contract as GM. The thinking is Nonis might be the GM in Toronto under the guidance of Cliff Fletcher for a year, and remain in that position if Burke takes over as president when his contract in Anaheim expires. Burke would become the face of the Leafs, giving Nonis a long leash to carry out his duties.

But that's only one scenario. The Leafs wanted to interview San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson for their opening, but were denied permission by those above Wilson in the Sharks organization. What's obvious is the Leafs finally are moving forward in their GM search.

Interim GM Cliff Fletcher, though, will not be part of the interview process for the new GM.

GOOD CONNECTIONS

"I was involved when the list (of potential candidates) was prepared, but I don't want to be privy to the process now," Fletcher said. "Most of the people on the list I have pretty good connections with."

Coupled with the firing of Paul Maurice, the bell has been sounded on a busy time for the Leafs. Fletcher will take in the Marlies' playoff game tonight before leaving for Quebec City to take in the world championship.

"There will be other general managers there and maybe we'll start talking about possible deals," Fletcher said. "It's not going to be quiet between now and the middle of July."

Brunnstrom, the heralded but unproven 23-year-old Swede, signed a two-year pact with the Stars, giving the cold shoulder to the Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.

"There were no bad options for him," Brunnstrom's agent, J.P. Barry, said. "Dallas, he felt, was the most comfortable fit. It was more of a situation of why it would be Dallas than why it would not be Toronto, Detroit or Montreal."

Brunnstrom also did not want the pressure that comes with playing in Toronto. Leafs assistant GM Jeff Jackson had been given the task of trying to woo Brunnstrom to Toronto and was in daily contact with Barry.

"We're disappointed. He has made his decision and that's the business," Jackson said. "He would have a good opportunity here."


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