The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) selling their 80% stake of MLSE is certainly interesting, but it doesn’t strike me as much of a game changer in terms of on-ice product. That said, there are a few parts of this sale that I’m eager to find out about.
1. Larry Tanenbaum
Tanenbaum increases his ownership stake to 25% and, as I understand it, remains Chairman of the MSLE Board. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly, he’s a visible part of the community and a face for an often faceless organization. He also really wants this team to win and is passionate about sports. The downside to Tanenbaum’s increasing ownership is that he likes to meddle. Many people have pinned bad contract decisions on Tanenbaum (exhibit A:Tie Domi's last deal). I'm not saying his increased stake means increased meddling, but the impact of Tanenbaum on the culture of the organization is something to keep an eye on.
2. The myth of ownership structure = success
Single owners can be successful like Mike Ilitch in Detroit, they can be ruinous like the Fords of the Detroit Lions and Donald Sterling with the Clippers, or they can be highly comedic like Eugene Melnyk.
More complex ownership structures can be fantastic, Green Bay Packers come to mind; or they can be incompetent MLSE, Calgary Flames LP, and so on…
When it comes to ownership,there is no magic bullet or single way to success. Teams need competence, if not excellence, from all aspects of their organization. Committed owners with deep pockets, GMs with smarts, coaches who excel, and on-ice talent that’s skilled and deep. Take any one of those elements away and the odds of finding success become much longer.
This deal confirms that the Leafs will still have deep pocketed owners. What remains to be seen is if the new owners have a strong commitment to winning and whether they stay out of hockey operations.
3. Richard Peddie
Peddie, the man who gave Toronto John Ferguson Junior and Rob Babcock, was set to resign later this month. Peddie is like King Midas when it comes to making money and King Richard II when it comes to achieving any other sort of success.
I’m hopeful (hey, I’m a Leafs fan) that the incoming President is as skilled at producing on-ice results as Peddie was at wringing every last dollar out of the fans.
4. The Composition of the new board / Blame the fans
I’d like to think that Leaf fans take a lot of heat due to the lack of a visible, accountable owner. A faceless board means there’s nowhere else to channel the blame.
5. Does this deal mean the end of HNiC on CBC?
CBC’s NHL rights expire at the end of the 2013-14 season. CBC’s past-president said the network would likely be unable to retain the rights as the expected costs would be stratospheric.
With TSN and Sportsnet’s parent companies now owning 75% of MLSE, I have to conclude they’ll soon own all the Leafs’ broadcast rights.
Part of me is saddened that Saturday night hockey on CBC may be no more. It’s a Canadian institution and their production values are second to none. That said, the program has stagnated for years, the on-air “talent” is an embarrassment, and more often than not I watch the games on mute so I don’t have to hear Jim Hughson’s affectations and Glen Healy’s horrific combination of smug, snark and stupid.
If one of the outcomes of this deal is never hearing Glen Healy again, I’m fully 100% on board with the death of CBC's HNiC, a program the CBC actually killed years ago.