Majority interest in Maple Leafs is up for sale

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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.”

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.