If Leafs land Burke, it will come at the expense of Gilmour

November, 18, 2008
11/18/08
11:10
AM ET
If Brian Burke does indeed take over the Toronto Maple Leafs someday soon, the team will be bereft of one of its most popular figures in the modern era.

Doug Gilmour is gone from the organization, getting his release Monday after accepting the head-coaching position with the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Frontenacs. The former Maple Leafs star captain hit the ice for his first practice with the team Tuesday.

"It's going to be a learning curve for me real quick," Gilmour told ESPN.com last night. "It's exciting though. [Frontenacs GM] Larry Mavety coached me when I was 16 years old [1979-80], the first year the Belleville Bulls ever existed. So I have a history with him."

The Frontenacs are last in their division at 5-13-4-1. Gilmour has a huge challenge ahead of him. Mavety first approached Gilmour about the job last summer, then again a few weeks ago and then again Monday morning.

"I really made this decision about 10 a.m. [Monday] morning," Gilmour said. "Last night, when I went to bed, I was going to practice this morning with the Marlies."

Gilmour had been an assistant coach to Greg Gilbert with the Marlies, Toronto's AHL farm team. It was his first real coaching job. A year ago, he first got behind the bench with Canada's entry at the Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland. The team won gold and the rookie assistant coach realized what he wanted to chase in his post-playing career.

"The biggest thing for me was last year having the opportunity to do the Spengler," Gilmour said. "It drove me more than doing the scouting side or player development. The past three months have been really enjoyable."

Gilmour joined the Leafs' front office in the 2006-07 season as the team's professional development adviser, a job he kept for two seasons before catching the coaching bug. If he's serious about following the coaching path, then cutting his teeth in the OHL is a smart call.

Will it land him back in the NHL one day?

"One step at a time," said Gilmour, stopping us in our tracks. "Time will tell where all this leads."

Gilmour had to hang up during our conversation and call back -- fellow Kingston native Kirk Muller, now an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, was calling him.

"He thought it was pretty cool that I was going back to Kingston," Gilmour said. "In my heart, this feels right."

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