New boss Leiweke has big plans for MLSE sports franchises

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TSN.ca Staff
7/15/2013 9:27:16 PM
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Tim Leiweke is not afraid to admit that, like many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he's planned the long-awaited Stanley Cup parade in Toronto.

The new head of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment told the Washington Post that he wants the organization to focus on current results, not past accomplishments.

"I have it planned out and it's going to be fantastic," said Leiweke. "If you can all dream about that and get that in your mind, we'll have something we're all driven toward.

"I don't want the players walking in the hallways of the Air Canada Centre and seeing pictures from 1962," he added. "Get rid of those pictures and tell them, this is your legacy."

As part of that legacy, Leiweke suggested that Leafs general manager Dave Nonis will have his contract situation solidified in the near future.

"We'll probably have some news on that very soon," Leiweke told the Post. "I'm a big Dave Nonis fan, and I want a culture here that is different than the one I stepped into."

The former AEG executive has set a goal of doubling the value of the organization in the next five to seven years with winning being front and centre.

"Winning does a lot of that, 30 per cent minimum comes just from winning," Leiweke suggested.

On that note, he offered a unique prespective on the Leafs' heart-breaking first-round loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

"I think they need a few ass-kickings, and that's one that will stay with them for a long time," Leiweke said of the Leafs' players. "I think it will pay huge dividends in the long term, no matter how painful it was."

MLSE's NBA property, the Toronto Raptors, meanwhile are a team in transition looking to build through the draft and Leiweke felt that former general manager Bryan Colangelo was not part of the future.

"I didn't get along with the GM of the basketball team, so we brought in somebody who sees the world the same way I do," he said, adding the owners "are very aware that we may ultimately have to, excuse my English, suck to be good. They understand they're going to have to be patient there."

Patience is what he preaches and has told the owners of MLSE as much.

"Our owners know we've got to be patient and stop knee-jerking like we have in the past," he said.

Major League Soccer's Toronto FC has also struggled and, while he would not comment on rumours of Uruguayan international Diego Forlan joining the team, Leiweke did say a splash is needed to keep the fans' interest.

"We better have a significant signing or this erosion we're currently experiencing will continue," he said.

Bringing the NFL to Toronto would also add to the MLSE brand and Leiweke would like to add that to the stable of teams.

"It is a safe bet to say we'll have some role there, to be determined, but that's on our radar screen," he said. "I know the league well and if we can help in that, we will certainly try to help."

Tim Leiweke (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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