TORONTO - While working deep into the spring appears to be a longshot for the Maple Leafs, the same apparently can’t be said for VP Dave Nonis.
With the Leafs preparing to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night at the RBC Center pretty much needing a win to keep their fading hopes alive, Nonis is expected to be named the GM for Team Canada for the upcoming world hockey championship at a future press conference held by Hockey Canada.
If and when that news becomes official, it would be a good choice. Keep in mind that Nonis, Brian Burke’s right-hand man in Toronto, was the architect of the trade that brought goalie Roberto Luongo to Vancouver while Nonis was the GM of the Canucks.
As for the Leafs, the find themselves in a three-way tie for 10th in the eastern conference at 70 points with the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers. The Hurricanes sit ninth with 74 points, eighth place Buffalo have 76 and the seventh place Rangers have 78.
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice hopes Tuesday’s 1-0 victory will give it confidence against the Leafs.
“You hope so,” Maurice said. “You hope you can build on that. It’s a big game but, then again, they all are.”
Cam Ward is expected to start in goal for the Canes, with J-S Giguere looking to get the nod for Toronto.
The game will feature recent callups Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff for the Leafs. There is speculation that Kadri will centre a line featuring Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.
“I’ll probably have butterflies but, if I’m fortunate to be up with the team, I’ll probably have them next year too,” he said.
According to TSN, Nonis will be assisted by former NHL assistant Rob Blake.