Leafs fire GM Ferguson, replace him with Fletcher on interim basis

Updated: January 22, 2008, 3:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs, mired in last place in the Northeast Division, fired general manager John Ferguson on Tuesday and replaced him with Cliff Fletcher on an interim basis.

John Ferguson

Ferguson

"Our team performance has fallen short of what is to be expected," Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, said during a news conference at the Air Canada Centre. "We need to forge the start of a new beginning for [the] Toronto Maple Leafs."

The Maple Leafs, who have missed the playoffs the past two years, are 14th in the Eastern Conference standings with a 19-22-5-3 record.

Fletcher, who received a 19-month contract, will work as a consultant after the new GM is hired.

"I know here in Toronto the expectations are high," Fletcher said. "I look forward to the challenge and a few tough months ahead."

The MLSE board of directors met on Monday and decided to make the change. Ferguson, hired as GM in 2003, was informed on Tuesday.

Fletcher first served as GM of the Maple Leafs from 1991 to 1997, twice leading the team to the Western Conference finals. The 72-year-old is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"Cliff Fletcher is the ideal person to lay the groundwork of positive change for the Leafs," Peddie said in a team release.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.