It is almost universally accepted that Brian Burke is at the top of the Maple Leaf's list of prospective General Managers. And why would he be with his track record. There also is a constant buzz that he is headed here once the season ends for Anaheim. But is he really interested in the Maple Leaf job?
According to Burke, the Leafs haven't asked Anaheim for permission to discuss the job with him and he emphatically states there has been no contact. The mere suggestion of which hints towards tampering, which aside from a seven-figure fine for the teams involved and the forfeiture of draft picks, would also force Burke to the sidelines for a year. So expect everyone to be above board. With Fletcher filling in as interim GM, the Leafs can wait until their preferred candidate is available. As well, since Burke's contract expires at the end of the season, I don't think the Leafs would even need to ask permission to approach him at that point.
An important factor is Burke's wife Jennifer who is a a successful television host in Vancouver. Burke told the Regina Leader-Post that the chances of his leaving Anaheim for Toronto are remote. Again, that message may be more to ease concerns of his team as they begin another run at the Cup.
Clearly he is happy in Anaheim. He is working for a terrific owner and has constructed a first class organization. But in southern California people care about UCLA football, the Dodgers, the Lakers, etc. But no one really cares about the Ducks. So there may be a desire to move to a better hockey market. That might not be Toronto since someone like Burke would be a welcome addition to most NHL teams. As I see it, there are 3 possible scenarios.
- Burke will use the Leaf vacancy to leverage a mega-contract from the Anaheim owner.
- Burke is trying to create a bidding war for his services and will go to the highest bidder.
- Burke is intrigued by the Leaf offer and will bolt from the Ducks once his contract expires.