Majority interest in Maple Leafs is up for sale

2 Comments

La Presse in Montreal is reporting that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is looking to sell their 66% share in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). The huge news could mean real estate mogul Larry Tanenbaum will be able to add to his 20.5% interest as he contractually entitled first right refusal to any interest. Additionally, TD Capital will also be able to add to their current 12% interest in the entertainment group. No matter who ends up with the available interest, it could change the direction of the most polarizing team in Canada.

The first step of the sale would be for the Teacher’s Pension Plan to find investors interested in the 66% stake. Accordingly, it’s being reported that they’ve contacted Morgan Stanley for the purpose of finding interested parties and to get an idea of the realistic selling price. From there, they would go to Tanenbaum and/or TD Capital with a bid and either accept their offer or move to the parties who are willing to pay a higher premium.

Any potential deal will include more than just the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Air Canada Centre. MLSE seemingly owns the entire sports landscape in Toronto—so purchasing a part of MSLE means purchasing a part of all Toronto sports. La Presse breaks it down (English translation):

“The Teachers’ Fund is seeking $1.3 billion for its share of MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment), the largest sporting group in the country. MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Raptors (NBA), Toronto (MLS), and the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. It also has networks Leafs TV and Raptors TV; and venues Air Canada Centre, Ricoh Coliseum, and BMO Field, which would also be part of the transaction.

If it’s completed, this sale will be the largest in Canadian professional sports history.”

A few months ago, it was rumored that Rogers Communications was interested in MLSE. We’ll soon find out if those rumors held any water, but purchasing an interest in the Leafs would be huge for Rogers and their subsidiary Rogers SportsNet.

Update: Per Hockey Night in Canada, Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan Statement:

“The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan today stated that it will explore the possibility of selling its 66% majority share of the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and will be making no further public comment on the matter.”

Caps’ Vrana hoping to earn spot with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov

Getty
Leave a comment

It looks like the Washington Capitals are going to give Jakub Vrana the opportunity of a lifetime.

Washington has given the young winger a chance to earn a spot on the right side of the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday night, they got to put the chemistry to the test, as Vrana and the Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal.

Vrana finished the game with a power play goal (an innocent shot that went off Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and in the net). Kuznetsov and Ovechkin registered the assists on the goal and the Caps won 4-2.

“We played fast today,” Vrana said, per the Washington Post. “We had some passes today, some chances. It’s always a good sign when you have chances. … You’re going to be confident when you play with guys like this. You’re just going to be confident on the ice with the puck. Just play fast and build some chemistry there.”

The 21-year-old got his first taste of real NHL action last season, but the production simply wasn’t there (three goals and three assists in 21 games). But the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft did put up solid numbers in the AHL, as he had 36 points in 49 games last year and 34 points in 36 games with the Hershey Bears two years ago.

“He gets to space,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He gets on the puck because he moves his legs and his speed is noticeable. Kuzy can get him the puck, and getting down ice, he can put some pressure to create a forecheck, too. He worked hard today, and I think we keep putting him with top players, because we think he’s going to be a top player.”

WATCH LIVE: Canucks vs. Kings from Shanghai, China

Getty
5 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks and L.A. Kings will make history on Thursday.

The two teams will face each other in an exhibition series in China, marking the first time NHL teams will play preseason games in that country. The two-game set gets underway with Thursday’s contest from the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

Set your alarms, wake up early (especially if you’re on the west coast!), put on a pot of coffee and catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 a.m. ET) or online with the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for today’s game:

NHL hopes to make inroads in China with exhibition games

It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

Canucks-Kings exhibition series in China highlights preseason schedule

NHL preseason games in China are ‘the biggest deal’ for local fans

NHL looks to China to ‘expand the sport’

 

Video: Flames goalie makes incredible behind-the-back glove save

Screen grab
5 Comments

A save of the year candidate in September? It’s possible.

Jon Gillies of the Calgary Flames made an incredible stop during Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The camera angle from directly above the net is the best, as it clearly shows how Gillies appeared to bump the puck back toward the goal line, then suddenly reach back with a no-look, behind-the-back glove save to prevent a Canucks goal and stop play.

That is one incredible save.

Drouin shows ‘commitment’ to community with donation to Montreal hospital

Screen grab
2 Comments

Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game for his new team, the Montreal Canadiens.

But after getting traded to the Habs in the summer, Drouin has already made a sizable contribution in the community, donating $500,000 over 10 years to the University of Montreal Hospital Centre and planning to help in the fundraising activities to raise an additional $5 million, according to The Canadian Press.

From Sportsnet:

“I think all of that had some impact on his overall decision making,” Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet. “One day when he’s retired and 50 years old, that hospital [which will begin serving patients for the first time this coming October] will still be here and he’ll have played a role in its development. That means something to him.

“But I think more than anything else he wants to help people. If he can help people—the hospital is going to be the largest hospital in North America and there’s a tremendous need for it in the city—and if he can use the fact that he plays for the Montreal Canadiens to do that, I wish more players felt that kind of responsibility to their communities.”

As noted in the Sportsnet piece above, Drouin is following in the footsteps of Saku Koivu and P.K. Subban, who made generous donations in the community during their time in Montreal.

The Habs acquired Drouin from the Lightning in June, sending prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay. They then signed the 22-year-old forward — who was born in nearby Ste-Agathe, Que. — to a six-year, $33 million contract.

It won’t be long before the pressure falls on Drouin’s on-ice ability, especially playing as a potential No. 1 center in Montreal and essentially being a hometown player for the Habs. But without even playing a meaningful game for his new team, he’s already giving back to an important cause in the city.

“And when you look at that, if you make $6 million and you give $50,000 a year, it’s not a big deal and you get tax receipts,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s a commitment, and being involved in the community and doing something for your community I think it’s something that you have to do.”