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TSN Senior Correspondent

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Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment have hired Air Canada executive Michael Friisdahl as the sports holding company’s new president, a source told TSN.

Friisdahl replaces Tim Leiweke and his hiring will be announced by MLSE later this afternoon.

Friisdahl joins MLSE from Air Canada, where since 2012 he was president and chief executive of the airline’s leisure group, which runs Air Canada Vacations, a tour operator business.

Friisdahl’s previous positions included CEO of Thomas Cook North America and CEO of the tour operator Holiday Network.

Friisdahl’s hiring brings Leiweke’s stewardship of MLSE to a close, as the story of who will replace Leiweke has percolated in sports business circles for months.

He joined MLSE in 2013 after working for 13 years for the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings.

After a rough start when he drew criticism for a plan to remove photos of Leafs legends from the hallways of the Air Canada Centre, Leiweke won praise for his hiring of Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and for navigating local politics to get a new $30-million practice facility built for the Toronto Raptors.

Leiweke said in August 2014 that he planned to leave MLSE by June 2015. At the time he confirmed that he negotiated with Live Nation Entertainment chairman Irving Azoff about starting a joint venture that could include assets that belong to Madison Square Garden Co.

But by January 2015, with efforts to replacing him stalled, MLSE’s board considered asking Leiweke to stay on.

MLSE is jointly owned by Bell Media, TSN's parent company, and telecom rival Rogers Communications. The perception that those companies are often at odds has made some sports executives contacted by MLSE wary.

John Cassaday, chief executive of Corus Entertainment in Toronto, was widely considered a front-runner for the job. While Cassaday tentatively agreed on a contract, the sides did not discuss financial terms until the 11th hour. At that point, talks collapsed.