As Rumors Run Rampant, Tim Leiweke Insists He Is Not Leaving MLSE In Near Future
MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke "knocked down rumours on Tuesday that he is about to leave" the company, according to Cathal Kelly of the GLOBE & MAIL. Leiweke said, "It's not true. One-hundred per cent not true. I'm fully committed to the season at hand." Leiweke was referring to the Raptors season, as he is "in the midst of working" on a new $30M training facility for the club. That is expected to be announced "in the coming days." Some of Leiweke's other projects include the "renovation of BMO Field; the luring of the World Cup of Hockey to Toronto; the ongoing resuscitation of the Maple Leafs." He said, "Why in the hell would I take my eye off the ball now?" Kelly notes it is "an open secret within the organization" that Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan is "being groomed to take over Leiweke’s spot once he decides to leave." That is "why this denial rings true." It is "very difficult to believe the 45-year-old Shanahan would want that job only a few weeks into his first senior management position." What is "clear in talking to him is that while Leiweke has no current plans to leave, he isn’t envisioning a lifetime in Toronto" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/20). In Toronto, Lance Hornby notes a tweet from the CBC's Elliotte Friedman yesterday said that Leiweke "was looking at the door, perhaps not today, but long before anyone expected." Yet for those "wondering if Leiweke is having second thoughts about what he can accomplish here, Tuesday’s denial didn’t rule out his leaving before something truly meaningful, such as a Leaf Stanley Cup or an NBA championship or an MLS soccer title." Leiweke "never made a life-long commitment to this new job." He "takes special pride in the turnaround of TFC, which had fallen so far after its early successes." Leiweke said, "Tell (TFC) fans not to worry." A source said, "Tim is fully on the job. When it is time for him to go, he will have set up TFC for long-term success and all of Toronto’s sports scene will be better off for the time he spent here" (TORONTO SUN, 8/20). Also in Toronto, Kurtis Larson reports there were "fears" that Leiweke's reported early exit "might put Toronto FC's entire transformation into jeopardy." Just as he has "made Toronto FC fans feel special, Leiweke has a special soft spot for the world's greatest game" (TORONTO SUN, 8/20).
A QUICK TURNAROUND: Friedman yesterday reported via Twitter that Leiweke will be leaving the company "soon." In Toronto, Bruce Arthur in a front-page piece notes an MLSE source "indicated that 'soon' encompassed the upcoming season, at least." So Leiweke is "probably in for one year, and that seems about right." Leiweke's sometimes "blundering words can overshadow the fact that he's done quite a lot, and on balance, it's positive" (TORONTO STAR, 8/20). The TORONTO SUN's Steve Simmons notes the "one thing Leiweke has established here, as he did with [GM] Dean Lombardi with the L.A. Kings, is he lets his sports people run their teams" (TORONTO SUN, 8/20). In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski notes there are "arguments that not enough has been done," but there is "no doubting the 57-year-old has brought in what can be considered sweeping changes." The Leiweke storyline in Toronto "will not quiet down regardless of his statements about remaining on as head of MLSE." Speculation yesterday "ran rampant regarding a potential post" with the Clippers, and there also is talk of a Leiweke "interest in the David Beckham led attempt" to bring an MLS franchise to Miami (TORONTO STAR, 8/20).