It has been 14 months since Tim Leiweke announced he was leaving Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. At the time, it was reported that Leiweke would not stay on the job past June 30, 2015.
Yet here we were, almost four months past that date, and Leiweke was still the chief executive officer of the powerful sports company that owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC. Names popped up as rumoured replacements, but nothing stuck. Finally, on Thursday, as talk of Alex Anthopoulos leaving the Blue Jays dominated the Toronto scene, MLSE made its hire.
“My initial reaction (was) who was he. Who is he?” said Richard Powers, the national academic director of the Rotman School of Business’s directors education program. One of his focuses is sports marketing. “I think if you lined up 10 names, I’m not sure I would have picked his.”
It is tough to know what to make of the new CEO, Michael Friisdahl, who had been the president and CEO of Air Canada Leisure Group since October 2012. His entire professional history has been in the travel industry; now, he comes over to run the sports and real estate monolith.