TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs have received permission from the Phoenix Coyotes to speak with Cliff Fletcher.
A Coyotes spokesman confirmed to The Canadian Press that the Leafs asked Phoenix on Wednesday if they could talk to the former Toronto general manager.
Fletcher spent seven seasons as an executive with the Coyotes before being fired late last season but remains under contract with Phoenix this year and next. The free-falling Leafs are believed to be interested in bringing back Fletcher in an interim GM position.
The 72-year-old Fletcher was in Mexico on vacation on Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Leafs were interested in Fletcher.
Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, would not confirm his organization had asked the Coyotes for permission to speak with Fletcher.
“I plan to continue not talking about our Leaf management situation unless something material happens and then I will inform the media,” Peddie said in an e-mail.
Current Leafs GM John Ferguson is under fire with the NHL club sitting 28th in the 30-team league. The Leafs are in danger of missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons for the first time in 80 years. Ferguson’s contract expires at the end of the season and it’s widely believed he is working on borrowed time. Some fans chanted “Fire Ferguson” during Tuesday night’s 5-4 win over Carolina at the Air Canada Centre.
Fletcher, a Montreal native and Hockey Hall of Famer, was GM of the Leafs from 1991 to ’97, a successful era for the organization. He was fired in 1997. He was also GM of the Calgary Flames during the organization’s first 19 years in the NHL and built the Flames’ one and only Stanley Cup champion in 1989.