MLSE

Report: John Cassaday to replace Tim Leiweke as MLSE president and CEO

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According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, John Cassaday appears to be the man to replace out-going Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

Leiweke, who joined MLSE in April 2013 on a reported five-year contract, is scheduled to leave the company on June 30.

MLSE is the parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs among others.

Cassaday recently retired as president and CEO of Toronto-based radio and television broadcaster, Corus Entertainment.

“Cassaday is a proven leader,” said a person close to the MLSE board told TSN’s Rick Westhead in October. “He has handled a publicly traded company in Corus, its board and family ownership issues flawlessly. He is stable. A sure hand on the tiller. And he’s mature and knows how to manage divisions and factions within a company. And he’s Canadian and probably is looking for a change before he retires.”

Westhead reports Cassaday’s deal with MLSE could be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million per year, plus bonuses on a three-year deal.

Former Madison Square Garden executive Hank Ratner, NHL executive John Collins and former CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon were all reportedly candidates for the job.

MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum told The Globe and Mail “We’re close” when asked about naming a replacement for Leiweke on Thursday.

Cassaday could be announced as early as next week.

Report: Leiweke to head up Olympic bid in Los Angeles

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A day after it was confirmed that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment President and CEO Tim Leiweke would leave the organization by June 2015, we may have more clarity on the 57-year-old’s next move.

According to TSN’s Gord Miller, reports have Leiweke is going back to Los Angeles to head up an Olympic bid for 2024, which would also include an NFL stadium.

Leiweke, who joined MLSE in June 2013, moved to Toronto after holding a similar role with AEG, which owns the Los Angeles Kings and Staples Center among others.

 

Columnist: New owners don’t mean championships for Leafs

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The reviews of the new owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs are rolling in, and they’re not all positive.

The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts is one of the skeptics, openly wondering if BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications will get the Leafs any closer to a Stanley Cup championship. And more importantly, if the two corporate giants will care if they don’t.

Shoalts makes reference to the comments made by the two CEOs – Nadir Mohamed ( Rogers) and George Cope (BCE) – at today’s press conference.

“It’s the perfect marriage of content and distribution,” Mohamed said. “Our goal is to leverage content and distribution. This is having access to iconic content.”

Cope chimed in with, “I am 100 per cent convinced the Bell shareholders will make money on their network investments.”

Essentially Shoalts is saying, “That’s great you guys are going to make a lot of money, but what about winning a Stanley Cup?”

It’s a worthwhile question to ask, although I’m not sure it’s a huge concern with a hard salary cap. It’s not very likely BCE and Rogers are going to chisel the Leafs down to the cap floor. Given the potential playoff revenue bonanza, it’s probably worth spending as much money as the CBA allows.

Shoalts points to Rogers’ ownership of the Blue Jays as evidence the company isn’t willing to spend the money to win championships. However, MLB doesn’t have a salary cap and the Jays are stuck in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. It doesn’t make a ton of financial sense to try and outspend those two clubs.

Where I’d agree with Shoalts is that the focus of the press conference should’ve been on winning championships, not making money. The Leafs have already made plenty of money. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967.

Done deal: MLSE sold to Bell/Rogers for $1.3 billion

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It was just a report last night, but today the Maple Leafs have been sold.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund have sold their majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to Rogers Sportsnet and Bell Canada for a whopping $1.3 billion. The partnership is an awkward one as Bell and Rogers are competitors in communications. Bell also owns a small part of the Montreal Canadiens on top of it all. No, they won’t be forced to divest their interest there. That should make Habs-Leafs games a bit more fun.

How this affects the future of the Leafs (as well as MLSE’s other sports interests) will be curious. Will Bell and Rogers amp up their interest in running the Leafs to try and generate more money for the team by taking a keener interest in how they do? Will the new owners treat the Leafs as a cash cow that effortlessly makes money for them?

After the executive board room way of life the Ontario Teachers seemed to do things, seeing a two-headed monster with a direct interest in how well the Leafs perform will be fascinating to watch.

Rogers, Bell close to purchasing controlling interest in Maple Leafs

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It was only two weeks ago when the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said they weren’t going to sell their controlling interest in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). It’s amazing what (as much as) $2 billion can do to change people’s minds.

Telecommunication rivals Bell Media and Rogers Communications are pooling their assets to purchase the 79.5% of MLSE shares that are owned by the Pension Plan. The $2 billion would include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs TV, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre, and various real estate holdings.

Two billion dollars doesn’t goes as far as it used to.

QMI Agency is reporting that the deal could be completed as early as Friday; but more likely, the deal will be completed sometime before Christmas.

It’s noteworthy that Bell and Rogers are buying the Maple Leafs in the midst of their best start in awhile. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in six seasons, but they’re currently only two points behind the Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division. The team is as desirable as they’ve been in years. What will they be able to do when they have ownership that is desperate for ratings?

Either way, let’s be real: the Maple Leafs could win five games per season and still make money. Now if we could get Bell or Rogers to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, all the ownership problems in the NHL would be cured.