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).