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Report: MLSE’s had “preliminary discussions” about Gretzky as Leafs president

Jan 22, 2013, 6:26 PM EDT

Wayne Gretzky AP

Roughly two weeks after Brian Burke was fired as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a new potential suitor may have emerged for the club’s presidency.

The Great One.

According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, MLSE has had “preliminary discussions” about Gretzky possibly taking Burke’s old job.

With the GM reins already handed to Dave Nonis, the president’s title still needs to be filled.

It should come as no surprise that Gretzky would be in the mix for said gig, given a report from last year claiming Gretzky had been approached by groups eyeing the purchase of MLSE.

Here’s more, from the Toronto Star:

Gretzky told Sportsnet on Thursday that in recent months multiple groups have asked him to be part of a $1.5 billion offer for control of the sports conglomerate.

What exactly his role would be — whether figurehead, president, or in the management team — was unclear, but adding him as Canadian content for a U.S. owner makes a lot of sense, said Richard Powers, associate dean at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

“It would be a smart move for the people with the money — attracting a Canadian hockey legend and icon as a spokesperson for the ownership group generates publicity and gets attention whenever he shows up,” said Powers.

At that time, whispers suggested Gretzky was being courted to get involved at an ownership level. But that’s no longer an option as Bell and Rogers joined forces to buy MLSE for $1.3 billion back in December.

This new development would (theoretically) see him in an executive role, responsible for the shaping of the organization and, perhaps most importantly, the on-ice product.

Update

TSN’s Bob McKenzie says there’s been “no direct contact” between MLSE and Gretzky.

Update 2

Further explanation from Kypreos (we misinterpreted his earlier tweet)

While the name Gretzky has come up within MLSE walls, I have no internal info that suggests formal talks have even taken place. #easytwitter

— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) January 22, 2013

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