Nonis meets with Peddie

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Now that the Maple Leafs know that Wayne Gretzky is not interested in the job as general manager, perhaps everyone can get on with their lives.

TSN reported yesterday that Gretzky is not interested in leaving the Phoenix Coyotes, where he is coach and part owner, to come to Toronto. Not that there has been much of an indication the Leafs were of the mind to bring Gretzky in for an interview.

Gretzky, who likes coaching the Coyotes, appears to have fallen into that category of big names who have so much as held a hockey stick in the NHL must have a connection to the Leafs' GM position.

Instead, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president Richard Peddie met with Dave Nonis yesterday, and there's a theory making the rounds that Toronto would like to hire the former GM of the Vancouver Canucks to be by the side of interim GM Cliff Fletcher through the important summer months that include the entry draft and the free agency period.

But sources in Vancouver have indicated Nonis has no interest in becoming an associate or assistant GM -- he wants the same title and role he had in Vancouver. If the Leafs want him to be something else, they might not get anywhere with Nonis. He reportedly also has interest from the Atlanta Thrashers and St. Louis Blues.

The idea that Nonis would be a bridge to the hiring of Brian Burke next summer won't go away.

There remains the thought in some quarters that the Burke-to-Toronto move is not as dead as it is being made out to be, and some refuse to say it won't happen this summer.

Two other men who have been linked to the Leafs vacancy -- NHL senior executive and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell and Neil Smith, who was interviewed in Toronto when John Ferguson got the job nearly five years ago -- were contacted yesterday by Sun Media, but neither was in a talkative mood.

"I haven't heard from them at all," Smith said.

NO WORD

Campbell, who has had the support of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for the job, was asked whether the Leafs had been in contact with him and if so, would he be interested.

Via e-mail, Campbell said it "would not be proper to comment."

Peddie has remained concrete in his claim that the club won't rush into a decision and eventually will hire a proven winner. But many of the men Peddie and Gord Kirke had in mind -- from Ken Holland to Doug Wilson to Lou Lamoriello to Bob Gainey and others -- won't be in Toronto for any reason next season other than to watch their current teams play.

Nonis is not a proven winner, and has more in common with Ferguson than he does with any of the higher-profile people who won't be hired.

Peddie, Nonis and Kirke did not return phone calls yesterday.

Meanwhile, centre Kyle Wellwood has recovered well enough from a minor procedure on his groin area in early April that he has been skating and will ready well before training camp opens in September. But will he be in uniform with the Leafs? Wellwood is a restricted free agent and there is no guarantee he will get a qualifying offer from the Leafs.

"It might depend on who the new GM is, but I would expect one," Wellwood's agent, Mike Liut, said.

The groin/sports hernia woes that bugged Wellwood, who turns 25 in two days, last season were a large factor in his poor output of eight goals and 13 assists in 59 games.


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