With Brian Burke set to be officially announced as new general manager of the Maple Leafs at a news conference on Saturday (streamed live on TSN.ca at 2pm et/11am pt), Cliff Fletcher's time in his current role with Toronto is drawing to a close. On Friday, the interim GM spoke to TSN's Darren Dreger on his AM640 Toronto radio show.
"My mandate when I was brought in last January was to be the custodian of the keys until such time as they brought the person in that they wanted to guide the team into the future. It was very well laid out in advance, I enjoyed it, I thought I would only be running the team as a manager for four to five months and it ended up being double that time," Fletcher told AM640. "I think the time is right for Brian to come in and I really feel confident that he is the person to get the job done."
When asked if there would be any relief in leaving his position, Fletcher admitted that there would be after the transition from himself to Burke had taken place.
"I'll feel good about the fact I was able to give a good six month head start for Brian coming in and he can move forward and run the team the way he runs them and move the Leafs up the ladder as quickly as possible," Fletcher told the radio station.
Fletcher was not put in an enviable position at the start of his second term as Toronto's GM. He was tasked with making major changes and had tough dealings with several of the veteran players.
"When you are in the position I was in here, it's not an easy position to be in, but you just go about doing the business as professionally as you can."
As for his role with the club going forward, Fletcher said it would be up to Burke.
"If he does decide that he'd like me to be part of it then that's fine, I'd love to remain part of it because I love the Leafs and I think there are going to be some exciting times ahead for everybody," said Fletcher.
When asked about what accomplishment he was most proud of over his most recent tour with the Leafs, Fletcher pointed to moves made away from the ice.
"I think we've put together a real good organization off the ice and brought in some real fine hockey people starting with the coaching staff," he told AM640. "I think the Leafs have a good core of people and a good group who like working together. I'm happy we were able to accomplish that part of it."
The subject of Mats Sundin came up and Fletcher explained that Burke would have to decide if the Maple Leafs would pursue their former captain. He did say would expect certain factors to impact the decision.
"It's now approaching the 30-game mark and a player of Mats age, how long does it take him to get in shape once he joins a team, maybe a month," wondered Fletcher. "Maybe the equation doesn't quite match out for the Maple Leafs now as it would have maybe at the start of the season, I don't know, but those are issues that Brian will have to address."
One player who finds himself in an awkward situation is forward Dominic Moore, whose brother Steve is currently suing Burke and the Vancouver Canucks as part of the Todd Bertuzzi affair two years ago. But Moore does not anticipate any problems.
"It's not really an issue for me. There are issues outside of here that need to be addressed at some point," said Moore. "Obviously I'll support my family because that's what families do but beyond that, I'm able to separate things and I have no problem with Brian at all."