A day after Paul Maurice was fired as head coach, the Toronto Maple Leafs are stepping up their search for a new general manager.
Sources tell TSN the Leafs have officially made contact with former Vancouver Canucks general manager Dave Nonis in an effort to move the process along. It's expected the two sides will meet next week.
News that the Canucks had been approached by the Leafs about Nonis has prompted speculation that the former Canucks GM is part of a plan that includes getting Anaheim general manager Brian Burke to Toronto in the summer of 2009, when his contract with the Ducks expires. Nonis, who worked for Burke in Vancouver, could potentially be be hired as GM, replacing interim man Cliff Fletcher. A year from now, with Burke having fulfilled his contractual obligation in Anaheim, he could be hired by the Leafs as team president and be reunited with Nonis.
"If they do decide to bring me in, and tell me what they're thinking, at that point there's a decision to make," Nonis said earlier on Thursday.
Nonis added that there are a few factors he's looking for in a team.
"I would say the ability to win, and I wouldn't say necessarily right now. I think the desire to do the right things in order to have long-term success. You want to have stable ownership. You want to have a team that at some point, maybe not right away but when it gets better, be willing to spend to the cap."
The concept of adding Nonis with an eye towards Burke is not far fetched, but the rejected request to talk to Sharks GM Doug Wilson indicated the Leafs were conducting a broader search.
A source told TSN that the Maple Leafs contacted the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday for permission to talk to Wilson, but the team's ownership refused to grant it. ''Wilson doesn't really want to leave San Jose and the Sharks don't want him to leave,'' the source said. ''It's as simple as that.''
Also, the Globe and Mail reports that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum tried to court Detroit general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill, but was turned down by the Red Wings.
"Larry was told then, and I've run into (MLSE president) Richard Peddie a couple of times since and reiterated, that they are under contract for three more years," Red Wings senior vice-president Jim Devellano told the paper. "It doesn't matter how many times I tell members of the Toronto media that Ken Holland and Jim Nill are not coming to Toronto, they still are mentioned as possibilities or candidates. I'm telling you that is not the case."