Tim Leiweke, the CEO and president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, expressed his confidence in the Toronto Maple Leafs and their manager, Dave Nonis, in an interview with Hugo Miller and Eric Lam of Bloomberg published on Tuesday morning.
Leiweke was formally announced as the new head of MLSE on April 26 and was scheduled to begin his new position in June. Having previously acted as the CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (which owns several Los Angeles based entities including the Los Angeles Galaxy, Kings and Lakers), Leiweke has expressed his desire to replicate the success he experienced over his 13 years with AEG. That time includes a combined nine championships amongst the three teams.
"I have it planned out and it's going to be fantastic," Leiweke said yesterday in his first interview since taking over the Toronto-based sports group, which owns the city's National Hockey League franchise, as well as the Raptors basketball team and Major League Soccer's Toronto FC. While employees at MLSE were a little shocked he mentioned winning the Stanley Cup so soon after starting the job on June 3, Leiweke said the company has to focus on results.
"If you can all dream about that and get that in your mind, we'll have something we're all driven toward," he said he told them.
In addition to changing the mentality around the club, Leiweke believes Nonis is an integral part to developing a championship-caliber team. Hired as Brian Burke's replacement prior to the 2013 season, Nonis has been in control of the club for about seven months. Having made minimal changes to Burke's team, the Maple Leafs came one period shy of advancing to the second round of the 2013 playoffs.
Since the start of the offseason, Nonis has made considerable reconstructions to the club, which included the acquisition of Jonathan Bernier, free agent David Clarkson, the extension of Tyler Bozak and the buyout of Mikhail Grabovski. Some of these decisions have been met with mixed reviews.
However, Leiweke is satisfied enough with the manager that he has already begun negotiations on restructuring his contract, which should be finalized in the near future:
"We'll probably have some news on that very soon," Leiweke said. "I'm a big Dave Nonis fan, and I want a culture here that is different than the one I stepped into."
h/t to Deadspin