Burke free to discuss jobs with other NHL franchises

Updated: November 14, 2008, 4:28 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

Let the fun begin.

The Anaheim Ducks filed paperwork with the NHL on Friday that freed all other NHL teams to speak with Brian Burke, sources told ESPN.com.

Burke's contract with the Ducks expires at the end of this season, and NHL regulations stipulate teams could not talk to him without permission from Anaheim. The Ducks granted just that Friday.

Burke officially stepped down as GM of the Ducks on Wednesday after rejecting the team's offer of a contract extension on Nov. 1. Bob Murray was elevated to GM in Burke's place, signing a four-year deal.

Citing family reasons, Burke wishes to return to the East Coast, where he still has children from his first marriage.

The Toronto Maple Leafs headline the list of possible suitors for Burke, who has long been linked with the Original Six club ever since GM John Ferguson was fired last January.

Veteran Cliff Fletcher has been the caretaker GM since then. His contract expires in July.

"When I was hired originally in January, it was to run the hockey team for the balance of the year until they came up with their leader for the future," Fletcher told ESPN.com on Thursday. "And then when the candidate, or one of the candidates that they were really interested in wasn't available, they asked me to stay on for another year, which I agreed to do.

"But it was always on the understanding that if and when they got whomever they were going to get to lead the team through the next long period of time, then I would step aside. This was how the job was laid out to me and I was happy to accept it on that basis."

Burke joined the Ducks as GM in June 2005 and two years later led the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup championship.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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