Michael Friisdahl is the Next MLSE President

I guess this is news that many of us aren’t overly interested in beyond the fact it means the end of Tim Leiweke, but it appears that MLSE will finally have a new President and Brendan Shanahan will have a new boss. 

Since Friisdahl doesn’t have a sports background, and has instead been in charge of Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Vacations most recently, he’s essentially been picked because he’s the best business person of the candidates that were considered. That might be a good thing since MLSE hockey, soccer, and basketball operations are probably best handled by the people currently in place beneath Friisdahl, though no new boss doesn’t make at least one or two moves to make something their own.

Here’s a bit of a background on Friisdahl from his Air Canada biography:

Michael Friisdahl was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada’s newly formed Leisure Group in October 2012. The Leisure Group combines the activities of its tour operator business, Air Canada Vacations, with its new low-cost leisure airline to launch in 2013. Michael has the overall responsibility for this new Leisure Group which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada.

Prior to joining Air Canada, Michael held the position of Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Cook North America and was a member of the Group Executive Board at Thomas Cook Group plc. He was also a member of the International Purchasing Board and the Aviation Board. Prior to Michael’s appointment as CEO of Thomas Cook North America, he held the position of President and Chief Operating Officer of Thomas Cook Canada. Under his leadership, Thomas Cook became a leading leisure travel group in Canada with significant growth in revenues.

Michael has more than 25 years of experience in the international leisure travel business and a background in international travel, finance, marketing and sales management, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and business integration.

Rick Westhead who broke the story had some additional information on another possibility that fell through:

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.

The main thing as hockey fans we should be focusing on in this change is what becomes of Brendan Shanahan. There isn’t an reason to believe that his job is in jeopardy, and by most accounts he’s done an excellent job with what he’s been given. Of course, if Friisdahl and Shanahan don’t see eye to eye, that would supercede public perception and we could be back to square one. 

For now, let’s not think about that and enjoy the fact that the Leiweke era is over.