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New MLSE CEO Keith Pelley: We’re not here to sell jerseys, we’re here to win”

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Photo credit:Chris Young/Canadian Press
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
Toronto Maple Leafs management met with the media for the final time until draft day on Friday morning, with new Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley speaking for the first time. Joined by him were President of Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan and General Manager Brad Treliving.
While hearing Shanahan speak may not have had the same draw as previous years during his ten-year tenure with the team, there was a sense of intrigue around hearing Pelley speak for the first time, and fittingly, after his first Leafs first-round loss. The former president of Rogers Media oversaw the European PGA Tour for the past nine years and said that he would only return to Toronto for one of two opportunities – to be able to oversee MLSE or to bring an NFL team to Toronto. There won’t be a Toronto NFL/Buffalo Bills rivalry building anytime soon, so the attention shifts to the Maple Leafs.
Pelley likely didn’t get off on the right foot with fans after expressing his confidence in Shanahan, who’s going on year 11 with no success beyond a single first round victory to lead them going forward. He cited the President’s Cup-winning pedigree as a player, calling him a “champion”.
Whether you think this was genuine or just a matter of Pelley not wanting to make any rash decision four weeks into the new job, either way, it sounds like Shanahan is safe for now. That being said, the new CEO wanted to make it clear that the vision doesn’t shift away from the one clear goal the franchise has.
He also offered a nod to the fans, talking about the “staggering” experience of witnessing Maple Leafs Square during Game 6 of the first round against the Boston Bruins.
Pelley’s true impact on the organization will likely have to wait to be felt, at bare minimum until next season. Shanahan’s contract is up after the 2024-25 season, and how the Leafs perform next season will likely play a big part in whether he keeps his job or not. A decision like that based on a single-season performance seems perplexing to make at this stage of his tenure, but then again, if they win a Cup, there likely won’t be any jobs lost. Either way, Pelley has the task of a lifetime on his hands, and it stretches beyond this season.

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