SBD/Issue 56/Sports Industrialists

Richard Peddie To Retire As MLSE President & CEO At End Of '11

Peddie Has Helped Grow MLSE's Business 
Side Despite Teams' Struggles

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO RICHARD PEDDIE yesterday announced "plans to retire after helping build a multifaceted sports, entertainment and property development empire that has earned him both corporate praise and fan scorn," according to Shi Davidi of the CP. Peddie, 63, said that his departure "has been discussed regularly as part of the organization's succession planning for the past four or five years, but that given his age, Dec. 31, 2011 was the right time to step away." The MLSE BOD "has formed a search committee that will be helped by recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International in hiring a replacement, and both internal and external candidates will be considered." Peddie "will remain on for a transition period with his successor and won't be reluctant to start new projects ... or extend other employee contracts." Davidi wrote there is "no arguing that Peddie and Co. have brilliantly executed the business side of the equation, but for many fans of the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC, it's the failure to build a winner in any sport that they will most tie to his legacy." Peddie said his biggest disappointment from the job is "not winning anything yet" (CP, 11/30). In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski notes Peddie was named the inaugural President & CEO of MLSE in February '98 after the purchase of the Raptors and Air Canada Centre by Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. Peddie "went on to lead MLSE into the digital world with the development of Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada, and Golf TV Canada" (TORONTO STAR, 12/1). Also in Toronto, Lance Hornby notes "many estimates have the company tripling its value to more than" C$1.5B under Peddie (TORONTO SUN, 12/1). Peddie said that he "isn't closing the door on another high profile executive job," but it "won't be in the sports/entertainment field." Peddie: "I have no interest in a 24/7 job that competes with MLSE. There are lots of interesting offers coming in. I suspect I will get to choose a few things that will be a lot of fun" (TORONTO SUN, 12/1).

ALL BUSINESS: YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote, "It's true that Peddie is an outstanding businessman with little feel for sports, who has boosted his company's bottom line while his teams have sunk in the standings, who has been criticized for putting profits before glory. But how is Peddie's departure going to change the Leafs' plight, having missed the playoffs five straight years now, sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference?" Peddie "isn't the problem." The problem is the "structure of Leafs ownership or at least in the philosophy that comes from that structure" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/30). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes, "Few will dispute the fact that Peddie did an exceptional job on the business side of the operation, making money hand over fist for the various groups of happy shareholders." The Maple Leafs "were always prepared to spend whatever it took to be competitive," even if it "wasn't always the right way to do business." But Duhatschek adds, "Where I'd like to see MLSE reverse course is on the matter of a second NHL team in the Toronto-area. MLSE has been quietly opposed to any infringement of their territory in order to protect that aforementioned brand -- when it doesn't really need the help. Fact is, a second Toronto team, maybe even operating right out of the ACC, would provide the sort of competition on the ice that might eventually make the Leafs better too" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/1).

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