What’s next for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke after helping reshape the managerial teams with Toronto FC of MLS, the NHL’s Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Raptors?
A different venture out of town?
It appears so, according to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman.
“Not sure where he’s going, but hearing the reason is he is looking for a new challenge,” Friedman tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
Not sure of where he's going, but hearing the reason is he is looking for a new challenge.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 19, 2014
Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star tweeted that Leiweke denies an imminent departure from MLSE.
"Just talked to Tim Leiweke re: rumours he's leaving MLSE: 'It's not true. 100 per cent not true. I'm fully committed to the season at hand,'" Kelly tweeted.
Just talked to Tim Leiweke re: rumours he's leaving MLSE: "It's not true. 100 per cent not true. I'm fully committed to the season at hand."— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) August 19, 2014
Leiweke arrived in Toronto in April 2013 after running the company that owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
Under Leiweke’s watch, Toronto FC brought in Tim Bezbatchenko as general manager, followed by the Raptors’ hiring of Masai Ujiri as GM and the Leafs’ luring of Brendan Shanahan from the NHL head office to become president and alternate governor.
"I had to go through a learning process, and if TFC is the sailboat, and ultimately the Raptors are the yacht, the Leafs are a massive cruiser and it takes a lot to turn them around, and it takes a lot to shift strategy," Leiweke told reporters this past April. "And this is not a task you take lightly.
"I needed some time to understand what was right and wrong here."
Leiweke clearly left L.A. on a high, following the Kings' Stanley Cup victory in 2012 and back-to-back championships by the Galaxy in 2011 and 2012.
In Toronto, he would leave having reshaped the sporting landscape.
Toronto FC missed the post-season a year ago but with impressive youngsters on board such as Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan combined with the off-season additions of forward Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, the signs are there for a potentially quality team in the not-too-distant future.
As of Tuesday, Toronto sits third in the MLS Eastern Conference standings with a 9-5-8 record for 32 points, 10 behind division-leading Sporting KC.
The Raptors are coming off a franchise-record 48 wins and seven-game, first-round playoff loss to Brooklyn.
And the Maple Leafs? Well, they missed the playoffs for the eighth time in the previous nine years in 2014. Shanahan is aboard, GM Dave Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle remain while their assistants have been shown the door.
Before arriving in Toronto, Leiweke was the head of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the owner of several sports teams and buildings. AEG also had a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Dynamo of MLS, owned the Staples Center and Home Depot Center in California, and operated a number of buildings around the world, including London's O2 Arena.
In addition to sports, AEG was heavily involved in several music and entertainment businesses.
Leiweke previously worked for U.S. Skiing, the Denver Nuggets, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.