In Pursuit of Brian Burke, Maple Leafs Must Be "Cautiously Aggressive"

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer INovember 13, 2008

As Brian Burke stepped down as the GM of the Anaheim Ducks yesterday, all eyes turned to the Maple Leafs, who were practicing in Calgary, as if to say "Well, your move."

Burke has slipped into a role titled "Senior Advisor," which in plain English means he will be helping the new General Manager ease into the seat, while sliding out of the picture.  According to many insiders, Burke will also be allowed to pursue other job opportunities elsewhere throughout the rest of the season.

So, it would seem natural, that any day now the Maple Leafs will announce Burke as their new GM. In fact, everyone but the Maple Leafs and Burke, are doing all they can to make it seem natural.

Mike Zeisberger reports in the Toronto Sun today that the GM search, which was reportedly off until this summer, is back in full swing. Richard Peddie even went as far as to say that hiring a GM midseason wasn't out of the question.

I guess that settles it.  Someone paint his parking space and get him a house (maybe Mats Sundin's Toronto digs, conveniently up for sale).

It seems everyone has drawn the conclusion that the Maple Leafs and their long suffering fans may even get a Christmas present in the form of Brian Burke being handed the reins.

But, as it turns out, these next couple months could define the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And with the odd timing of the Burke announcement, he may have put the Leafs (unintentionally) in a tough spot.

Should the Maple Leafs, as early as today, begin an aggressive pursuit of Burke?  Or should they wait until the summer? 

Well, right now there is technically only one open GM spot and that is here in Toronto.  Waiting until the summer means more teams may be looking for a GM, hence the competition for Burke would be far steeper.

But, if you lock him up now, who is to say that one of the free agent GMs this summer won't be just as, if not more qualified than Burke to run this club?

Certainly, we're speaking strictly hypothetically, but let's say the Leafs hire Burke tomorrow. 

Then this summer the arguably smarter Ken Holland opts to leave Detroit.  Highly unlikely, I know, but stranger things could happen. Plus, you would think Holland might have the inside track on impending free agent superstar Henrik Zetterberg?

Like I said, this is totally hypothetical and more of a dream scenario than anything else, but it's not completely impossible. There are plenty of young, bright men in Detroit ready to take the GM's chair. Guys like Jim Nill and Steve Yzerman would be possibilities. What stops Holland (or one of the guys mentioned) from leaving the Motor City in search of opportunity?

One could argue that it's a good problem to have, but right now the Maple Leafs must do a delicate dance in order to find the GM they want and, more importantly, the one who best fits the vision of this team.