TORONTO – Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs have agreed to terms on a deal that would see the former Anaheim GM take over as Toronto’s president and general manager.
A source confirmed the two sides had come to terms, with an announcement expected Saturday. Burke would become the 13th general manager in the club’s 92-year history. He stepped down as Ducks GM on Nov. 12.
Reports have pegged the deal as a six-year contract, including the rest of this season and five more, worth about US$3 million a year.
The news comes after months of speculation about Burke’s future.
“I am really excited that Brian is able to get this straightened out, if it is true,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
He’ll replace Cliff Fletcher, who was hired as interim general manager following the firing of John Ferguson in January.
“He’s done a great job setting the table for Burkie. An unbelievable job,” Wilson said after the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 shootout loss in Ottawa on Thursday night.
Burke spent the past three-plus seasons managing the Ducks, leading them to a Stanley Cup title in 2007. He stepped down after declining to sign a contract extension that would take him beyond this season.
His arrival in Toronto will be greeted by a few familiar faces. Burke and coach Ron Wilson are former roommates at Providence College while he and player personnel director Al Coates worked together with the Ducks.
While Burke delivered a Stanley Cup to Anaheim in 2007, it was a different kind of situation than he’ll face in Toronto. The Ducks already had young stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in their system when he arrived, along with No. 1 goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Leafs are nowhere near that rich in talent right now as they begin the process of rebuilding.
The Maple Leafs have already undergone some significant renovations during 11 months with Fletcher at the helm. He has shipped 11 regulars out of town – including a trade earlier this week that saw Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo sent to St. Louis for Lee Stempniak.