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READY, PEDDIE? RAPTORS PREZ TO HEAD LEAFS, AIR CANADA CENTRE
Published March 11, 1998
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).