Report: John Cassaday Likely Next MLSE President & CEO

Long before there was a search for a new GM or head coach, there was the search for a new President & CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the group that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Last August, it was announced that current President & CEO Tim Leiweke would be stepping aside to pursue other career interests, with lots of speculation that Leiweke was unhappy having to deal with a notoriously difficult group of owners.

Reports have begun to surface that suggest John Cassaday, who recently stepped down as the President & CEO of Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment, will be the person to replace Leiweke, who was slated to officially step down from his role with MLSE on June 30th.

It’s been a lengthy search, though one often swept under the rug by the mainstream media.  Among the candidates reported to have been in the running for the position was current Chief Operating Officer for the NHL, John Collins.  Collins apparently told MLSE that ultimately he wasn’t interested, not the other way around.

It’s an interesting move, although one that the fans will seldom see the real influence of.  There have been plenty of rumors about MLSE being more than meddlesome when it comes to the day-to-day operation of its teams.  New Leafs coach Mike Babcock has made subtle reference to that, saying one of his big demands in coming to Toronto was that ownership would stay committed to the team’s plan for a lengthy rebuild.

Among the moves the soon-to-be former MLSE President & CEO made, at least when it comes to the Leafs, is the hiring of Brendan Shanahan as Team President.  If nothing else, we can be thankful for that.  By all accounts, Brendan Shanahan has been awesome so far.

Corus Entertainment, who John Cassaday recently left, is most well-known for its ownership of children’s cartoon broadcasters YTV and Teletoon.  Considering MLSE is owned by Rogers and Bell, Cassaday should have plenty of experience working with wealthy broadcasting executives.

If everything runs smoothly, Cassaday could be announced as the new head of MLSE as early as next week.

  • Dan

    Balancing the competing needs of Bell and Rogers is a tough task he has ahead of him. Hopefully he can unite them to act for the betterment of the Leafs rather than their own respective wallets.

  • Leafs need a new arena for the rebuild imo…fresh start.
    I propose a 25,000 seat facility ACC 2.0 funded mostly with taxpayer dollars. Split with provincial and local/GTA.

    Costs could be offset by putting up tolls on Gardiner, etc.

    Property taxes are still pretty low for a region like the GTA compared with the rest of North America. Leafs have relatively wealthy fans so I do not think this is much of stretch.

    • Gary Empey

      A 25,000 seat facility ? How about 50,000 seats ? This way we could have 25,000 affordable upperdeck seats so the petite bourgeoisie would also be able to see a live game.

      To raise the money for this exciting new project, I suggest putting a tax on all Montreal Canadian fans presently residing in Ontario.

    • Rand

      And what about all the non-Leafs fans in the GTA?
      And yes, as popular as hockey is here there are still a LOT of people that have no interest in the Leafs.
      Why should they be asked to put up with higher taxes to fund a Stadium for the Leafs… a team with revenues in the hundreds of millions a year?

      If the Leafs feel they need a new stadium let they fund it entirely themselves. The ACC is nowhere near the biggest problem they have.

      • Rand

        The arena may not be exclusively for the leafs but may also be a place where various concerts happen, international conferences, and large events for the people of Toronto, and possibly Ontario. Its not just for the leafs alone.

    • Rand

      Thankyou for your satire. Unfortunatately some ON readers don’t get it. Of course all Canadians should pay higher taxes, toll road hockey fees and more for the GAME! There is NOTHING more important than the GM, COACH and TEAM ROSTER. That is why all taxpayers should fork over. The NHL and even the NBA are the most “VITAL” COMPONENTS of our SOCIETY.

  • Rand

    As hotoil pontificates, satire is a qaulity that some posters have trouble comprehending.

    M.L.S.E. put up the huge dollars to bring in the $50 million man to stop the financial bleeding. I do know that Corus owns a large number of radio stations. One of the stations in Vancouver use to be called the top dog, as it had a ratings share of almost 18. But in Guy Lawrence style, Corus began to nickel and dime the station to where the share is half what it was. I have friends who have worked at the station and watched cuts made here and there and every where.

    So obviously this new potential C.E.O. knows how to play the Guy Lawrence game. On the other hand one would hope that Ed, Larry and Bell have finally learned that the bleeding will soon start again if the fans perceive that once again the ownership isn’t sincere in a complete rebuild. Obviously they have brought in some very talented people at the management level. We shall watch with baited breath to see if the ice level product improves each of the next few years.

    One can only hope for the extremely loyal Toronto sports fans that the three amigos are indeed sincere about returning the leafs to respectability and not using a ploy to p.r. their way back to filling the loomis trucks to the brim.

    Leaf fans have had Lucy pull that old pig skin away once too often as the fans ran as fast as they could to kick that old football.