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King of denial? Leiweke to leave MLSE by next year

Aug 21, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT

Tim Leiweke AP

After strongly refuting reports he was stepping down as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Tim Leiweke is stepping down as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

On Thursday, MLSE chairman Larry Tanembaum announced that Leiweke would leave his post by June 30, 2015, or until a replacement had been found.

“Under Tim’s leadership, MLSE has made a number of key moves to strengthen our organization on the path to championship success,” Tanenbaum said in a statement. “We look forward to closely working with Tim to build on this foundation and further accelerate our momentum as we seek a new leader for MLSE.”

Leiweke, 57, became the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in June of last year, after a lengthy stint in the same position of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which owns the Los Angeles Kings. In his statement, Leiweke alluded to “new opportunities on the horizon” as part of the reason for his departure.

(And, to be fair to Leiweke, his denials of CBC’s original report were somewhat honest — he denied he was stepping down soon, saying that he was “fully committed to the season at hand.” Which he kind of is.)

Though he oversaw the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, MLS’ Toronto FC and the Maple Leafs, Leiweke received a good chunk of his press over the last year with regards to the hockey club. Early in his tenure, Leiweke said he wanted to be a “hero” in Toronto (adding he already had a Stanley Cup parade route planned), comments the Toronto Star called “laughable,” adding that “in the cultivation of executive arrogance, the new guy in town is intent on scaling new heights.”

A month later, Leiweke caused more controversy when he ordered the removal of pictures of the Leafs’ Stanley Cup team from the dressing room hallway.

“I don’t want the players walking in the hallways of the Air Canada Centre and seeing pictures from 1962,” Leiweke told Bloomberg. “Get rid of those pictures and tell them, this is your legacy.”

He later apologized, saying the decision wasn’t directed at Leafs alumni but rather a challenge to the current squad.

On Leiweke’s watch, the Leafs also hired 28-year-old assistant GM Kyle Dubas and took a major step forward in utilizing advanced analytics, reportedly hiring a trio of bloggers/website administrators to head up their stats department.

  1. spezzdispenser - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Torontonians aren’t very good liars (see Rob Ford re: crack)

    • dueman - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      Except Leiweke is an American, born in St Loius…

      • dueman - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Also, not being a good liar is actually a good thing.

      • spezzdispenser - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        I know he’s American, but he’s living/working in Toronto. Hence Torontonian. Wasn’t knocking him for not being a good liar either. Don’t overthink the joke bro.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Unfunny and overused joke to begin with, BRO.

    • spezzdispenser - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      A rare misstep by ol’ spezzdispenser. Boy is my face red.

  2. patthehockeyfan - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    One needs a scorecard anymore to keep track of statements issued, statements denied, statements clarified, statements retracted. The Moore-Bertuzzi settlement is another one of these issues.

    Not blaming the bloggers, or the press, in general. They report what’s reported (and confirmed; e.g., Bertuzzi’s attorney confirming the settlement).

  3. Brian - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Not that I want to give Steve Simmons props for anything, but this is pretty much exactly what he said was going on yesterday after Friedman first put this story out there. He tweeted that Leiweke had signed a two year non-compete agreement with AEG, and that once it was over he’d be gone from MLSE. June 30, 2015 is almost two years to the day.

    The only question is what he’s going to do next, I suppose. You have to wonder what the nature and reason for the non-compete is. Since one of the last major things Leiweke was working on before he was canned by AEG was trying to bring an NFL team to LA. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that his next move is probably going to be to join a different group attempting to do just that.

    • dueman - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      I agree, plus he’ll probably be more than happy to get away from the Toronto media as well. The stupid media in Toronto tries to make him look like a fool every time he says anything in public. It would be really nice to see the Toronto media actually get behind their teams once in a while, but they like to cater to the haters instead, always looking for something negative to write, especially when it comes to the Leafs.

      • beergold - Aug 22, 2014 at 8:19 AM

        Cry us a friggin river!!!!! The Leafs have earned their rep as a pathetic organization from the top to the ice and if it hurts that the media won’t ignore it then tough! Sounds like you got too many “participation” ribbons as a kid Dooman!

  4. Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    He kind of reminds of Brian Burke. He seems to be pretty good at what he does, but when it comes to handling the media he has a knack for saying the worst possible things at the worst possible time. The last thing Toronto fans needed was someone from within the organization bragging about “planning the parade”. Leaf fans have heard that cliche more than enough, don’t need to hear it from the guys running the team.

    That said, I still hate the Toronto media more than anything. The Toronto Star is one of the worst. Their reaction to his “parade” comment says it all. Most cities get excited and the teams get support when a new executive comes in and wants to build a winner… Not Toronto… The Toronto media just laughs at him and throws him under the bus the first chance they had.

    Since he arrived the Leafs made the playoffs for the first time in 9 season, the Raptors won their division for the first time ever, and he got Toronto the NBA All-Star Game… and he still can’t get any love from the media… No wonder he wants out ASAP.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      I don’t touch that stuff. CBC and TSN already have the best hockey coverage, and it’s Leafs-heavy enough to leave little reason for the Star’s sports sections’s existence.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:55 AM

        I like CBC and TSN the best too, but even they are guilty of a lot of Toronto bashing. Probably around 90% of the rumors about the Leafs being interested in [insert elite player's name here] come from Elliott Friedman (CBC) and Darren Dreger (TSN).

        I think Burke absolutely nailed it earlier this summer when he said the media in Toronto is like a bunch of news outlets who will say anything (whether it’s true or not) just so they can be the first ones to have said it. The worst example of that was several years ago (before Pat Burns passed away) when Bob McKenzie announced that Pat Burns died. Burnsy had to call TSN to remind them about “fact checking” things.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        All very true. I think that’s a trend in most contemporary news media, sports or otherwise, and certainly a lamentable one.

    • dueman - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      Hard to BeLeaf – I should of read your comment before I wrote mine, but I’m glad to see someone else sharing my opinion about the Toronto media.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 22, 2014 at 2:06 AM

        I’m glad I’m not the only one either! I really hate how they belittle any and all Toronto teams. Even when the teams are clearly improving.

        Leafs, a rebuilding team who actually have some good core players and solid crop of prospects in the system, but the media bashes them if they don’t play like cup contenders every year.

        Jays, best team they’ve had in years. But according to the media they might not make the playoffs, so why bother cheering them on? God forbid we motivate the team down the stretch.

        Raptors, best regular season team in years, possibly ever… but the Western Conference is so much better, so why bother rooting a good young team on. Why bother rooting them on in the playoffs.

        I don’t read much Toronto FC news, but I assume they’re being dragged under the bus too.

  5. bolt1991 - Aug 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Glad we have his brother here in Tampa.

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