If Brian Burke is offered the job as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he will be the second person Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has asked to take over the reins of the NHL club in the last 15 months.
TSN has learned that Carolina Hurricanes' general manager Jim Rutherford was formally offered the dual position as president and GM of the Leafs in August of 2007, at which time John Ferguson Jr. was still in place as the GM of the team.
Sources close to the MLSE board told TSN that the Leafs went through a prolonged dialogue with Rutherford that started in August of 2007 when the Leafs requested and were granted permission from Carolina owner Peter Karmanos to talk to Rutherford, the Toronto-area native.
The sources said Rutherford had ''multiple'' face to face meetings with the MLSE board in Toronto in August of last year and it culminated with a formal and firm job offer, which Rutherford apparently considered before notifying the Maple Leafs he was rejecting it to stay with the Hurricanes.
''I am the GM of the Carolina Hurricanes and that's my only focus right now,'' Rutherford told TSN when asked about his history and situation with the Maple Leafs dating back to the summer of 2007. ''I am not going to comment on things that may have happened or may not have happened a year ago. There's really nothing else for me to say.''
MLSE president and CEO Richard Peddie also declined to comment.
''We will continue to not talk about candidates or the search process,'' Peddie said in an e-mail. ''We only talked (about it) yesterday because of the surprise developments.''
It will be at least a week before any NHL team is legally permitted to discuss employment opportunities with Burke.