SBD/11/Franchises

READY, PEDDIE? RAPTORS PREZ TO HEAD LEAFS, AIR CANADA CENTRE

          Raptors President Richard Peddie, who "looked to be
     first on the firing line" when the Maple Leafs bought his
     team along with Air Canada Centre last month, yesterday was
     named interim president and CEO of the Air Canada Centre and
     both franchises, according to Lance Hornby of the TORONTO
     SUN.  The "surprise news release" from Maple Leaf Gardens
     Ltd. (MLG) also listed Peddie, who "whacked the Leafs in a
     bitter arena war and tried to submarine them at City Hall,"
     as "a strong candidate" to take the position full-time. 
     Leafs Exec Committee member Brian Bellmore said that the
     entire board "is in favor" of the move and that they "aren't
     holding any grudges" against Peddie.  Bellmore: "Who knows
     more about the Air Canada Centre?" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11).  In
     Toronto, Michael Grange writes that Ken Dryden, President of
     the Maple Leafs and Exec VP of MLG and "everyone else in the
     hockey operation will report to Peddie as will all aspects
     of the" Raptors organization.  MLG Chair Steve Stavro said
     that he was "delighted" Peddie had accepted the role, adding
     that Peddie would "work closely" with Dryden, whose "role
     will be expanded."  The announcement "made it clear" that
     Peddie's duties, which include overseeing the final phase of
     Air Canada construction, making decisions on premium
     seating, and selling corporate-sponsorship and season-ticket
     plans, "are expected to be largely completed by August." 
     Grange: "The question left dangling is how long the
     arrangement will last" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11).  
          MIXED SIGNALS? In Toronto, Chris Young reports that no
     Leafs representatives were present at the announcement, and
     that the appointment "hardly received a ringing endorsement"
     from Bellmore.  Bellmore: "This is an interim appointment
     and he'll probably be a candidate.  We'll hire someone in
     the summer" (STAR, 3/11).  The STAR's Dave Perkins calls the
     move "a clear sign of the continued rise to shot-calling
     prominence of [MLG Dir] Larry Tannenbaum."  Perkins: "Peddie
     is Tannenbaum's guy, no question" (STAR, 3/11).  The SUN's
     Craig Daniels writes that the hiring "provides stability
     during a period of turmoil," but adds that Peddie "knows
     less about hockey than he does about basketball ... and has
     no natural feel for the game."  Daniels: "All of it further
     confirms what you already knew: Sport today boils down to
     optics, to money, to selling, to a slick marketing man with
     little real sense of the game" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11).

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