Brian Burke, seen in Toronto in September, is expected to return this week. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))

Brian Burke reportedly left his Anaheim-era residence today, grabbed a coffee at Pete's — they don't have Tim Hortons in Southern California — and bought Civil War Times magazine at a Los Angeles International Airport newsstand en route to Toronto.

The speculation surrounding Burke possibly becoming the Maple Leafs' next general manager has often reached absurd levels over the past year, with all matter of minutiae reported and many attempts by sportswriters to connect the dots of separate moves by each party.

But it does appear the long-rumoured partnership could be forged some time very soon.

The Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun have reported that Burke is expected in town at some point Monday.

Burke, 52, parted ways with the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 12 after nearly four years and one Stanley Cup victory.

The two sides couldn't hammer out a contract extension, with Burke citing the fact his adult children live in the eastern time zone as an issue in not continuing to stay on in California.

Scott Morrison of CBC Sports has reported that Burke's Vancouver-based lawyer Peter Gall had exploratory talks with Gord Kirke, who is heading up the Leafs' search for a new general manager.

Burke has reportedly been on the radar of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment since before John Ferguson Jr. was fired as general manager in January. Cliff Fletcher has been serving as Toronto's GM since the firing but has said Burke would be "a great asset" to the organization.

Toronto is struggling on the ice, blowing a three-goal lead Saturday in an overtime loss to Chicago. The Leafs are 2-5-2 in their last nine.

The Maple Leafs return to action on home ice Tuesday against Atlanta.