- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

ST. PAUL, MINN. (AP) - Former Atlanta Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley joined the Toronto Maple Leafs front office in an unspecified role on Friday, shortly before the NHL draft.

The 62-year-old Dudley has been a general manager with the Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. He also coached the Panthers and Buffalo Sabres.

Dudley was GM of the Thrashers for a year before the team moved to Winnipeg this week. He was told three weeks ago that his services would not be needed by the team’s owners, True North Sports and Entertainment. Kevin Cheveldayoff was chosen as the new GM.

Maple Leafs senior vice president of hockey operations Dave Nonis said Dudley’s role will be defined in progress.

Rick is an exceptional evaluator of talent. If you look at where he’s been, what’s followed after he’s left has been success,” Dudley said. “He’s widely known around the league by people we consider to be quality hockey men to be an excellent judge of talent.

“He’s a hard worker, and we felt that adding him gives us another opportunity to find players. Not necessarily high-end guys, but the diamond in the rough that he’s been able to find over the course of his career.”

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