SBJ/20110103/This Week's Issue

MLSE board, search firm seek Peddie's successor

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has begun the search for a replacement for departing CEO Richard Peddie, who is leaving the organization after 13 years. An executive search committee comprising the seven-member MLSE board of directors — Peddie included — began looking for Peddie's replacement when he announced his impending departure on Nov. 30.

MLSE has hired Southern California-based executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry to assist with the search. A spokesman for the committee declined to discuss details of the search, other than to say Peddie would "provide input and assist the board" in its decision. Peddie said he would leave the organization as late as Dec. 31, 2011, but his departure could come earlier depending on the success of the search. He declined to comment on details of the process.


Peddie ending 13-year run.

Maple Leafs President and general manager Brian Burke called Peddie's job "the most popular corporate job in Canada." He said, "It's too early to tell who will be on the short list. I'm sure they're going to get 5,000 résumés for [Peddie's] position."

Peddie, 63, became president of the Toronto Raptors in 1996 and was elevated to CEO of MLSE when Maple Leaf Gardens bought the Raptors in 1998. Under his guidance, MLSE has grown into one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in North America with an estimated value of $1.5 billion. The organization now includes the Major League Soccer team Toronto FC, the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies, Air Canada Centre, Maple Leaf Square real estate holdings and more than 2,500 full- and part-time employees.

"Richard is a complete detail man," said NBA Commissioner David Stern. "Whether he is in talking to us about the NBA in Canada, TV or participation in board of governors meetings, he sees the big picture and the details, and I've always been impressed by that."

Peddie's triumphs in the business community did not always reflect on the ice and court, however. The Maple Leafs last qualified for the postseason in 2003-04, and the Raptors have never made the NBA Finals in the team's 15-year history.

"Whoever comes in to replace [Peddie] is going to face a challenge from the fans," said Chris Pandoff, executive vice president of Corus Entertainment, the Maple Leafs' radio broadcast partner. "MLSE is a very good corporate citizen, but I think most fans say it would be nice to bring home an NBA ring or a Stanley Cup."

A management-level source at MLSE said there is considerable internal support for Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer and executive vice president, to replace Peddie. "He's been [Peddie's] right-hand man through the growth of the company," the source said. "He knows the employees and the structure of the company, and we'd like him to get it."

Anselmi, who oversees marketing, ticket sales, corporate partnerships and communications for MLSE, declined to comment on the possibility of replacing Peddie, other than to say he feels "honored to be considered."

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