Leaf rumors: Quenneville, Hartsburg possible coaches; Campbell, Nonis as execs?

Leafs targeting D Jay Bouwmeester? Gretzky another option as GM

Although the Maple Leafs are enjoying their prolonged summer vacation, they are still managing to make headlines around the NHL.

But then again, this stands to reason, given that the buds currently have no General Manager, Coach, or team Captain.

As such, some new rumors have arisen in the aftermath of Paul Maurice being sacked.According to several sources, a leading candidate to coach in Toronto next season is former Leafs defenseman Joel Quenneville.

Quenneville was fired by the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, upon being swept out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings.

While coaching the Avs, he compiled a rather impressive record of 131 wins and 92 losses, as well as a number of successful playoff runs, e.g., beating the favoured Stars in 2004.

Quenneville of course is familar with Toronto, having played for the Leafs from 1978 to 1980. And older Leaf fans are well aware that Quenneville was traded along with All-Star LW Lanny MacDonald to the Colorado Rockies by then GM Punch Implach in one of Toronto’s worst trades ever. But I digress.

In his press conference last week, interim GM Cliff Fletcher wasn’t willing to speculate on anything.

Meanwhile, Damien Cox suggests that the Leafs may also consider former Minnesota North Stars all-star D Craig Hartsburg for the coaching post.

Hartsburg has previously coached in Chicago and Anaheim, and most recently with Canada’s gold medal-winning world junior team.

For the job of new team President, Cox suspects the Leafs may consider Colin Campbell, who is currently an NHL vice-president.

And for the GM post, the Leafs are strongly considering former Vancouver GM Dave Nonis, as widely reported by the media.

But Cox makes some interesting points. He believes that Nonis received a bum rap in Vancouver, and he has the ability to make the big deal, e.g., Todd Bertuzzi for Roberto Luongo. More importantly, he has refused to expend futures for short-term gain, and pretty much was fired by the Canucks for not being willing to sacrifice players and prospects for Brad Richards. The Leafs of course have done the opposite the past 40 years, which pretty much explains the teams Cup futility.

And let’s not forget that it was then Canucks GM Bryan Burke who threw away RJ Umberger, not Nonis.

Anyway, many fans aren’t happy with the idea of hiring Nonis. This response is quite understandable, given that the team is just starting to come out of the Dark Ages, also known as the John Ferguson Jr years.

And TSN is reporting that Leaf brass will meet with Nonis on Tuesday, and the Atlanta Thrashers apparently are also pursuing Nonis.

As for other possible GMs, Cox states that, based on what we know, Brian Burke, Ken Holland, Lou Lamoriello, Doug Wilson and Bob Gainey are all off limits.

Meanwhile, the Fan 590 in Toronto is reporting that Wayne Gretzky is on the Leafs’ shortlist of possible GMs.

Howard Berger reports that he was speaking with a close friend of Gretzky who believes he is on the shortlist. We should keep your eye on this one.

In other news, as reported on HTR, Leafs forward Jason Blake was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying this past season was the most frustrating of his career, and that a trade out of Toronto might be the best solution.

Blake, who is one of the finalists for the Bill Masterson Trophy, simply doesn’t want to stay in Toronto, and the Leafs don’t want to keep him around.

The big question, of course, is whether the team can find someone to take his contract. Blake still has four years left on the deal at $5 million a season. (Yikes!)

Fletcher has already stated he would not buy out Blake’s contract, as it would cost the team too much money against the cap.

The Leafs are likely to re-sign Matt Stajan, who had a rather strong season, emerging as a team leader and solid two-way forward.

Stajan made $950,000 and will likely get a new deal worth just over $1 million.

The Leafs are also likely to qualify Alex Foster and possibly Ben Ondrus.

It is less clear whether the Leafs intend to make a qualifying offer to C Kyle Wellwood. The enigmatic, injury-prone forward took a step back from last year, when he compiled 42 points in 48 games.

My take is you have to give Wellwood another chance to observe him during a healthy stretch. The man has had two hernia operations, so let’s cut him some slack.

Lastly, we all know that Eklund at Hockeybuzz.com is not the most reliable source for trade rumors. In fact, I think Eklund and Kramer have the same “sources”. Having said that, apparently the Leafs are considering putting together a “monster” package to try to land talented Florida Panther D Jay Bouwmeester.

What would you give up for Bouwmeester, realistically? Would you give up Kaberle and Stajan?

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