McKenzie: Burke-to-the-Leafs is not a slam dunk Talent Blog
11/13/2008 12:19:58 AM
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It will be likely be a week before any team in the NHL can officially speak to Brian Burke about employment opportunities, but when the green light is given by the NHL, via the Anaheim Ducks, there are not expected to be any restrictions.

The club giving permission to negotiate with a staff member still under contract to the team - and Brian Burke remains under contract to Anaheim, for now - can do it in one of two ways.

The club may grant permission on a case-by-case, club-by-club basis as it sees fit.

Or it can provide a blanket permission that allows every team in the NHL wholesale availability to the person under contract.

Sources say the Ducks and Burke have agreed it is the latter type of widespread access that will be granted to interested parties once the proper paperwork is completed with the league, in a week or so.

Once that happens, any team, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be free to pursue Burke.

If this were happening last July, there would be no doubt as to what would have happened. The Leafs were interested in Burke; Burke, it would seem, was interested in them.


Burke remains the odds-on favorite to be the next GM of the Leafs but it is not a guaranteed slam dunk.

The dynamic has changed a little bit.

It's like Burke and the Leafs are at a high school dance. They're both thinking very seriously about asking each other to dance, they're clearly attracted to each other but they may now feel the need to play a little hard to get. There's other fish in the sea for both of them, don't you know.

There may be some third-party interest in Burke beyond the Leafs. And now that the moment of truth is conceivably here, the Leafs may find some reasons to consider all their options, everything from the incumbent Cliff Fletcher to what they perceive might be available this summer.

At the end of the day, though, the probability of Burke becoming the Leafs' next GM is far greater than not.

It makes too much sense, but there's a negotiation to be done and there could be issues along the way.

So let the dance begin. This will be interesting.

Bob McKenzie


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