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Fletcher makes offer; Wilson headed for Toronto

TSN.ca Staff

6/2/2008 9:09:46 PM

Toronto Maple Leafs interim general manager Cliff Fletcher says he's found the man he wants to coach the team and has offered him the job. 

Sources tell TSN that former Sharks coach Ron Wilson is on his way to Toronto to meet with Leafs officials to try and work out a deal.

When reached by phone, Wilson, who was about to board a plane, refused comment.

While scrambling to catch a plane himself on Monday, Fletcher told reporters he had offered the Leafs' coaching job to a candidate and was in negotiations to seal the deal.

Fletcher fired former Leafs' head coach Paul Maurice last month after Toronto missed the playoffs for the second straight season. The Maple Leafs are also still searching for a GM to eventually replace Fletcher and have a committee working to that end.

The Sharks fired Wilson after the club was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Semifinals.

He holds San Jose club coaching records for wins (206), winning percentage (.535) and postseason games coached (52). The Sharks put together a 206-134-45 record in the regular season and a 28-24 playoff record with Wilson behind the bench. 

During his career Wilson has coached the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks, compiling a record of 518-446-127 over his 1,091 games. He coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final during the 1997-98 season but Washington was swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Wilson's relationship with Anaheim Ducks' general manager Brian Burke adds to the intrigue of the situation.

They pair played together for four years in college and were co-captains of the Providence Friars.

Burke also got Wilson his first coaching job with Milwaukee, then helped bring him to Vancouver as an assistant coach when Burke was the assistant GM.

At a dinner after Wilson coached his 1,000th game, he called Burke the most influential figure in his hockey career, a dinner that Burke attended.

To add a more personal touch, Burke is the Godfather of Wilson's daughter.  The two remain extremely close.

Rumours continue to swirl about Burke becoming the next general manager of the Maple Leafs, however the Ducks are insisting that Burke complete the final year of his contract which expires after next season.  The hiring of Wilson could be perceived as extra incentive for Burke to join the Leafs.

As for the Sharks, they too have a vacant head coaching position that needs to be filled.
 
Former Colorado Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville is widely believed to be the heir apparent in San Jose.

However, NHL Insider Darren Dreger reports that former New York Islanders' GM and current NHL on TSN analyst Mike Milbury has been interviewed by Sharks GM Doug Wilson for the position.

"There is no doubt that Quenneville is in the mix, but don't discount Milbury as a prime candidate as well," Dreger noted.

When asked about the interview, Milbury would not comment but he also did not deny the meeting took place.