October 23, 2007

Hey, Leaf fans: Boo these guys, not Leafs.: The Toronto hockey public has known the two extremes of sports ownership. Both, in very different ways, created a sense of tyranny and helplessness for Maple Leaf fans. For the past 4 years, the Leafs have been controlled by a private corporate entity that is among the most nameless and faceless in pro sports.

posted by tommytrump to hockey at 03:25 PM - 5 comments

Yay! It's the return of Leaf Filter. I was beginning to think that you Leaf fans forgot about your team. Besides, those upstart Wing fans around here were turning this place in Wing Filter. No cool man, not cool. Anyway, I think this guy should probably read the article.

posted by NoMich at 03:28 PM on October 23, 2007

The NHL didn't have to approve the sale of the Leafs to an amorphous bunch of owners, who individually have little interest in the Leafs. I would guess that the Leafs are just a small part of a diverse portfolio to these "owners."

posted by bperk at 04:18 PM on October 23, 2007

Shouldn't that read "Start-up" Wings? As in original NHL team? Or am I reading it wrong . . .

posted by B-2 Spirit at 06:03 PM on October 23, 2007

Here is the problem with the Leafs as a hockey team (not as a business). The owners of the team have very different motivations than the fans (or the Mark Cuban's of the world). The managers of this subsidiary of the Teacher's Pension Plan must meet quarterly and yearly financial performance metrics out of an obligation to the shareholders (really just OTPP, not "nobody" as Cox says). Those shareholders are not looking for Stanley Cups, they are looking for cash flow, consistency and ROI. Therefore, the Leafs will never go through a period where they are "rebuilding" and stock draft picks a la the Senators, Penguins, etc. The managers who run the show will ALWAYS sell the future for the present, ALWAYS trade draft pics for veterans that MAY get them into the playoffs/past the first round/etc. As long as they meet short term investment goals, they're fine. And they'll always be fine as long as the support of the team by fans, corporations, etc remains in place despite results (which will never be truely awful for the same reason). Certainly for the foreseeable future, with condos and office buildings being built on Leaf's property, and a TV channel being launched, the Leafs will not be allowed to fail and restock the farm system. Count on more stopgap measures like the Nolan/Toskola/Raycroft deal and marginal free agent signings. For most of the investors, all they need is 7-10%/year returns, easily manageable by staying the course. Risking those returns for the one/two year bump of having a true cup contender is not worth it, and will never be worth it. That's not the business that banks and pension plans are in. So don't boo the managers, who are only responsibly to their own shareholders, don't boo anyone other than the NHL system which allows, nay, enforces the monopolistic clutches that the club has on pro-level hockey in this city. If they faced any meaningful level of competition, from another team in Hamilton, or North York, or (god forbid) relegation, the entire formula would be different, and maybe the conservative financial institutions that own the team would have never bought in in the first place. Or don't show up, subscribe to leafs tv, go to raptors games, TFC games, or anything else. A few years of negative returns would have MLSE on the block in no time. Knowing that that will never change, I pray for an NFL franchise to move in and actually challenge the Leaf/Raptor stranglehold on sports entertainment during the fall and winter. Barring that, the only way the Leafs win the cup is by luck, having guys outperform expectations, and having the hockey moves work out brilliantly in one magical year. Forget about a run like Detroit's, Colorado's or Ottawa's. Not gonna happen, and it's a market fault, not an organizational fault.

posted by loquax at 06:39 PM on October 23, 2007

I'm in a weird situation. I want the Leafs to win a Stanley Cup. I want them to do whatever it takes to win, even SPEND gobs and gobs of cash to upgrade the team, the minors, the training staff, whatever. That said, my wife's pension is part of the Teacher's Pension plan. So I want them to MAKE gobs and gobs of money because it will help with our retirement in 35 years. So if they could just win the Stanley Cup REAL soon, and then go back into the money-making-mode again, I'd be fine with that. /checks tonight's score *sigh*

posted by grum@work at 10:39 PM on October 23, 2007

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