Toronto interested in Burke

Times Staff Writer

The Ducks are having talks with General Manager Brian Burke about a contract extension amid increasing speculation that the Toronto Maple Leafs have targeted him for the same job in their organization.

Michael Schulman, the Ducks’ chief executive, would not say whether there have been formal discussions to extend Burke’s contract, which runs through next season.

The Ducks’ bid to repeat as Stanley Cup champions ended Sunday.


“We talk probably every day,” Schulman said. “We’ve got a good relationship. We’re very happy obviously with his performance.”

Schulman denied a report in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail that an extension is on the table and the Ducks are awaiting Burke’s signature.

“Any discussions we’ve had, we’re going to keep them private between us,” Schulman said. “I’m not going to go into any details.”

Burke did not respond to an interview request. During the series against Dallas, the 52-year-old executive would not discuss the Toronto job.

Schulman made clear that owners Henry and Susan Samueli want Burke to stay.

“We love Burkie and we’d love for him to stay the rest of his career here,” Schulman said. “We clearly will be talking to him about that.”

According to the Toronto Star, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President Richard Peddie and Toronto lawyer Gord Kirke are recommending Burke to the MLSE board of directors.

But there is no knowledge that the team has sought permission to speak to Burke, a Ducks spokesman said.

Burke is expected to discuss his situation today when the players and coaches gather to clear out their lockers.

The Ducks may not stand in his way if he is interested in the challenge of running one of hockey’s storied franchises. During a presentation at the Hockey Hall of Fame in January, Samueli said as much.

Burke acknowledged the allure of the Maple Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup in 41 years but are hockey’s most profitable franchise and possibly its most popular.

“If you’re Catholic, this is the Vatican,” Burke said at the time.

But he also said, “I have a job that I love, and I work for special people in the Samuelis. I’m not going anywhere.”