TORONTO (AP) -Brian Burke could be an NHL general manager again very soon.
Just two weeks after leaving that post with the Anaheim Ducks, Burke appeared close Tuesday to joining the Toronto Maple Leafs as president and GM - a move that has been long-rumored.
"It's certainly headed in the right direction, but it's not done yet," Burke told the Web site for Canadian sports network TSN. "I anticipate it will get done, but it's not done."
Gord Kirke, who is handling the contract negotiations for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, was more cautious.
"Maybe I'm too much the lawyer, but for me it ain't over until it's over," Kirke said in an e-mail message to globeandmail.com. "And it's not over."
Cliff Fletcher was hired as interim general manager of the Maple Leafs in January, and said at the time his goal was to "set the table" for the man who would permanently hold down the job after him.
Various reports said the deal with Burke could be completed this week or early next week.
Burke recently turned down a contract extension to remain general manager of the Ducks, citing the need to spend more time with his family and the strong state of the team he helped turn into a Stanley Cup champion as reasons for leaving.
He was replaced by Bob Murray on Nov. 12 and remained with the Ducks as a special consultant to CEO Michael Schulman through the transition period.
Burke, 53, explained that he wants to spend more time with his six children and that 11 years of commuting coast to coast was enough for him.
Burke and Schulman had discussed the possibility for 11 months and Burke made his decision Nov. 1.
"This is the toughest decision I've ever had in my life, professionally, as far as what to do next," Burke said then. "I've been wrestling with the decision. I've got four older children on the East Coast and two little ones (4 1/2 and 2 1/2), and I don't see any of them enough. So I felt if I can get a chance to get in the same time zone with them, I'm going to take it."
The Ducks allowed him to immediately pursue positions even though his contract with the team wasn't set to expire until next summer.