Like all marriages, it comes down to commitment.
Tim Leiweke had an "out" from his Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment contract sometime around the end of the 2014-15 NHL and NBA seasons. The CEO is setting up his own company, excited by the prospect of being his own boss.
MLSE knew that. It also heard the rumours: Madison Square Garden (forcefully denied by several sources on Tuesday), Comcast, the Los Angeles Clippers, David Beckham's soccer team-to-be, etc., etc.
The board members wanted to know Leiweke was committed to them. It goes beyond the on-ice/on-court/on-field success of the organization's teams. There are major projects on the horizon: a new Raptors practice facility (which overcame a Toronto city council hurdle on Wednesday), an NBA All-Star Game, a bid for the NHL All-Star Game, and expansion of the BMO Field soccer stadium.
They wanted to know if he was in or out. They wanted greater guarantees.
As another NHL executive said Wednesday, "You have to know if anyone in his position has one foot out the door."
According to a couple of sources, approximately two months ago Leiweke reiterated to the board that he would only guarantee his position until June 30, 2015. It sounds like, at that moment, the board decided it had to protect its own interests.
With everything else we've heard about the MLSE/Leiweke relationship, this is what it came down to. His timeline was not acceptable to the board. It wanted to end the speculation and begin the replacement process, which is why the announcement
was made Thursday that the company is seeking a new CEO.
Now MLSE controls the situation.
Leiweke is taking a beating because of his denials after my original report
. I haven't directly spoken to him, but one source said he had issue with my use of the word "soon." He felt the end of June is a stretch to use that description. If I'd reported the key date, things probably would have been different.
Whatever the case, we're past that now. We always knew this would be a short chapter in his life, and the final paragraphs are ready to be written.
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