There’s “more than a 50 per cent chance” that veteran NHL executive John Muckler soon will become part of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ braintrust.


That was the word yesterday from a member of the brass with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates the beleaguered NHL franchise.


“We need to add an experienced mind, and John certainly qualifies,” the source said. “John’s representative (Gil Scott) contacted our CEO (Richard Peddie), on Monday, after Muckler was fired as the general manager of the Ottawa Senators and there was an expression of strong interest in working for us.


“We like John. I’d say there’s a good chance, certainly more than a 50 per cent chance, that we’ll add him to our management team.”


MLSE recently asked the Detroit Red Wings for permission to discuss a management position with Scotty Bowman, the most successful head coach in NHL history.

Bowman, however, prefers to remain in his role as a consultant for the Wings.

•Forgive the CFL if there are blown calls in its exhibition game Friday night in Winnipeg.

See, former CFL quarterback Matt Dunigan will be the head linesman for this game, which will involve two of his former teams — the Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Dunigan, a TSN commentator, will be wired and the network plans to eventually air some sort of feature on his adventure.

• The Ticats finally have cut veterans Mike Morreale and Rob Hitchcock — long overdue, really … Word out of the Calgary Stampeders’ camp is that NFL bust Akili Smith is looking sharp and will start the regular season next week as Henry Burris’ backup QB … Smith’s full name: Kabisa Akili Maradufu, Swahili for power, creativity and intelligence … Receiver Brian Bratton is impressing the Montreal Alouettes.

Not long ago, Bratton was an intern for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, where he chauffered QB Michael Vick.

• Basketball insider Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News on the newest Raptor, Carlos Delfino:

“He was frustrating, both to himself and the Pistons. His talent is clear: He’s quick, has a nice shot, plays defence, rebounds, etc. But for some reason, that didn’t always show on the court every game. He was consistently inconsistent, especially so in the playoffs. He was limited by injury or lack of playing time. He also was limited by his own head, sometimes descending into mopey pity parties.”

Now that they’ve eliminated Delfino’s $1.8-million salary, the Pistons hope to re-aquire their old star, Grant Hill, as a free agent.