Custom Search

I already don’t like Tim Leiweke…

Sometimes (and for me, given my propensity for long-windedness, it doesn’t occur very often…) it only takes a few words to say what you have to say. So I’ll try that approach today, and then wait to hear from you.

I already don’t like this Tim Leiweke guy.

I mean, he has this background as a “winning” executive from Los Angeles (Lakers, Kings, Galaxy).  How much he had to do with any of that success and those championships, I have no idea.  I know he wasn’t the GM or coach of any of those teams, he wasn’t a scout—and didn’t sign the cheques as the owner—so I have my doubts as to his real “value” when it came to the actual success of those teams on the field of play.

But that’s not any kind of analysis, I realize, and not necessarily a fair assessment.  While acknowledging that point of view is perhaps a bit arbitrary, my initial response to what I see of him continues to be, well, not good.  He clearly presents as one of these trouble-shooter guys who always blows into town with all the answers for what ails the franchise he is now running, as though no one else has thought out any of this stuff before him.

It’s awfully arrogant, but that’s fine.  It's not like we haven't heard this all before from any number of guys who have been running the Leafs, the Raptors and TFC in recent years (hey, we had to listen to Richard Peddie all those years—how did that go for fans?), so I expect the new guy to be self-impressed and pat himself on the back a lot, while trying mightily to pretend he is not doing precisely that.

This guy wants to win, he says.  Great, join the rest of us who have been here a lot longer than you, fella.  He apparently has a parade route mapped out for the Leafs when they next win the Cup.  What a novel idea.  Good for him. Hopefully he can fix some important social and political issues while he is in town, too.  (I wonder if he helped solve traffic congestion in LA while he was running everything down there? It sure sounds like he deserves a lot of credit for stuff that happened when he was in LA…)

In truth, this nagging negative feeling I have has been building since I first heard Leiweke speak when he was hired.  And the feeling has not gotten any better over time.

But today, what I mostly care about is one comment I saw from him this week, and it is this:  he is evidently having all the old photos from the glory days of the Leafs in the 1960s taken down from the halls of the Air Canada Center. 

Why?  He apparently wants the current players to know that they are the team’s “legacy”, or at least that they are creating it now. He doesn't want them walking by pictures of players from fifty years ago.

What kind of thinking is this?

Let me be clear:  the Maple Leafs have not won a Cup since 1967, but I can guarantee you that it has nothing to do with the pictures that hang in the halls in the ACC, or Maple Leaf Gardens before that.

Surely this guy is kidding.  That’s his big plan to turn the franchise around?  Get rid of the old pictures, and turn your back, in that sense at least, on the legacy that those great players helped build upon, a legacy that had started with Conn Smythe (and later his son Stafford, right) going all the way back to the early 1930s?

Look, I get that we’re talking about pictures.  It’s “only” a bunch of old photos.  But here again is a guy blowing into town who hasn't got a clue about the team’s heritage and history, other than what some public relations person is likely now telling him (if he even cares enough to ask about our heritage).

I wonder how many games Leiweke attended at the Gardens in the ‘60s?  He wasn’t around, you say?  I guess that means those days don’t matter any more—because Mr. Fix-it wasn’t part of it, and neither were today’s players, most of whom will be gone sooner than later based on the way the NHL is run these days.

So here we go again.  We have another egocentric blowhard in place that will try to say all the right things publicly about patience, leadership, teamwork and all that, but it’s really about his vision, his “plan”. 

And don’t cross him, or you’ll be out on your ear. Enjoy singing from the same hymn book, Dave Nonis.  And because you have so far (unlike that Colangelo fellow with the Raptors), you’ll get a contract extension.

Here’s the message I am hearing from Leiweke:  don’t respect the past, just focus on the present, eh?

Let’s create a culture of winning now—as though no one has thought of that before (sigh), and as though that culture has never been in place here.

What rot.

The Leafs still matter precisely because of their history that started with the Smythes.  If it weren’t for the unbelievable legacy of that family and the Leaf coaches and players in those great decades, including the ‘60s, would the Leafs still have the fan base they have now, more than 45 years since their last championship?  I don’t think so.

If this Leiweke fellow somehow manages to (at least in his own mind) help the Leafs win a Cup, he will still have a long, long way to go to catch up with those who ran this team before him—when the Leafs were really good and winning championships. And the guys I’m thinking about, like Punch Imlach and King Clancy and players whose names many of you know already (and whose pictures, until now, have hung on the walls at the Gardens and the ACC), were actually part of the team, not a guy who sits upstairs and thinks he has all the answers.

For the record, there have also been some exceptional hockey people who have represented the Maple Leafs since the late ‘60s who didn’t quite get us to the ultimate prize, but they are individuals who are treasured parts of Leaf lore.  Jim Gregory, Cliff Fletcher, Pat Burns, Pat Quinn.  And plenty of outstanding players.  They all continued to build the Leaf “brand” that this new person talks like he has to somehow revitalize.

I’m just another old guy fighting “progress” in Leafworld, I guess. So I’ll step back so you can have your say….


52 comments:

  1. Why can't we get somebody who will just do the job? Why all the BS all the time? Why not somebody who walks softly and carries a big stick? Do thy think we are impressed by their bravado? Stay in the background and let your people do their job and when they do give them all the credit and if they don't YOU take the responsibility. Severing the ties with the past sounds more like Ballard who seemed to have little regards for the Leaf heritage re: Dave Keon. When Nonis took over it looked like the product on the ice would do the talking. Sadly it didn't last long!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said it better - and much more succinctly - than I did, purch. And you are on the money with the Ballard reference (though at least he was the owner and put his own money into the team...). Thanks purch. Let's see how others feel...

      Delete
  2. As you might expect, I had a similar reaction to the photo takedowns. It's a slap in the face to all the Leaf fans who've supported this team over the decades. Only a knuckleheaded outsider, with no real respect for the teams under his sway, could sashay into town make a pronouncement like that. To me, he's proven he is NOT a hockey guy. He has no understanding of its place in our community, our city, our hearts. Quite frankly, his running off at the mouth reminds me of the departed GM, and at least Burke did understand the place hockey has in Toronto. This guy sounds like the usual "bottom line" executive who has no respect for anything or anyone that precedes him, and will seek to please his corporate masters by any means necessary. You know, the kind of guy who fires 100 employees then gets praised for his cost cutting.
    I'll also add that his comment about the parade route will be a great motivator... for every team that plays against us.
    This guy puts his foot in his mouth every time he opens it and tries to impress the northern hicks he so obviously thinks we are. Very unimpressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you, Gerund, I don't understand why these guys have to come across the way they do. Who are they trying to impress? As purch said, talk softly and let your results speak for themselves. It's baffling to me, Gerund- and it sounds as though Leiweke has not hit any of the right notes with you, either. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  3. I'm kind of on the fence on this one. Taking down all mention of the past is stupid, scaling it back is smart. The Leafs don't need to have a celebration of the past every dam night they play which is what it seems like they have now. They don't need to have a team photo of the 2004 squad hanging in the Marlies dressing room (which I heard is the case). This is a team that hasn't won squat since 1967 and rarely have had extended periods of even being average. Respect the past don't wallow in it which is what they do now.

    It reminds me of the Oilers, we won 5 cups in seven years. Twenty some years ago. Or the Blue Jays, we won back to back world series, twenty freaking years ago.

    What it becomes is a crutch to distract people from the fact that there has been no success for the last millennium. The Jays have rarely been good in the last twenty years so lets have Flashback Fridays ( which were cancelled this year) and trot out every single person who was involved with those world series teams twenty years ago from Joe Carter to the guy who washed the jock straps. How many times in a year do we have to a ceremony that involves Jonny Bower? I would guess at least 4-5 times a year. I'm freaking sick of it.

    So yes while I wish Lewieke would walk softly and carry a big stick, I also understand where this is coming from. Taking down all mention of the past is over kill but the whole nostalgia thing definitely needs to be scaled down. Like I said earlier, respect the past quit wallowing in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very fair points, Willbur. I, too, found all the "celebrations" in recent years almost silly- whether it's the old team stuff, or recent individual players who received video tributes. (I've long said, if they want to "honour" the great old teams, make it a special night, a free event where old-time fans like myself who actually saw those teams play could be a part of it. Most people at the ACC now don't really know or maybe even appreciate those old teams from the glory years.)

      But for me, the old photos are special. They represent the best of the past- the finest players and the most memorable moments. Taking those down won't help these guys play any better.

      Scale back, no problem, but do it the right way...thanks Willbur.

      Delete
  4. It also depends on which photos are coming down. If it's all photos in the building including the public or fan areas then that is ridiculous. If it's just photos in the player areas it doesn't bother me at all. Let the fans have the memories let the players worry about creating new ones.

    And yes Lewieke does strike me as another blow hard who likes to hear himself talk. We finally had a no drama season lets not have a return to the off ice antics over shadowing the on ice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I had made it here half an hour earlier so I could have taken credit for this point myself! I think that really is the critical issue. If he is taking down pictures in the public areas that would be completely disrespectful and crossing a line. If he is only talking about the private areas of the building I don't think it does any harm. It could be argued that the pictures would provide inspiration, and remind the current players of what the Maple Leaf means, but it could also be argued that the past is more or less irrelevant for the guys putting on the uniform today.

      I'm completely with you on the pre-game celebrations. I was embarrassed when I sat down to watch a game and instead had to endure a ceremony for some event that happened decades ago. I could almost hear the laughter and derision from the opposing players and fans. And why not? I would do the same if I was watching the Islanders have a big party to remember the 80s...

      Delete
    2. As I mentioned to Willbur, I can understand (to an extent) if we are talking about the players' rooms only. But if Leiweke is taking down pictures in the public access areas, then this is just silliness- and wrong-headed.

      And we are on the same page when it comes to these pre-game and in-game celebrations. I love the history of this franchise and those players and executives who helped make it what it is, but the last few years it felt like we were having a ceremony a night, and most of today's Leaf supporters don't honestly know a lot about the old days. That doesn't mean we should ignore our heritage (the Habs usually do a fantastic job with that- can you imagine if they took down pictures of the Rocket?), but we just don't seem to be able to match their efforts. Thanks Oliver.

      Delete
  5. Michael, you know my feelings on this-what a bunch of horsebleep. I don't mind bluster when it is warranted-coming from a hockey man like Burke who had a respect for the tradition of the Maple Leafs as well as that of the Smythe family that this stuffed suit who just flew into town does not.

    I do agree the ceremonies need to be dialled back as it is at a point where they are no longer 'special.' But the photos in all areas of the ACC, public and private, should be untouchable. I am too young to remember any Leafs cups, but my first introductions came via the pictures and stories of those men who were Champions in a 6 team league that, to debunk another straw argument I have heard, consisted of roughly a hundred elite players, far from today's watered down 30 team league.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sense you speak for a lot of Leaf fans, including some of those who, as you say, were not around for the "Cup years", Sean. The past does matter, and handling these memories respectfully is the way to go. Thanks for chiming in.

      Delete
  6. Seeing pictures of the old Leaf greats hanging on the walls of MLG is a cherished memory from my childhood in the 60s. It feels like those memories are being disrespected by this move.
    I wonder what the response would be in Montreal if someone, especially an Anglo, came to the Canadiens and announced they were removing symbols of their team’s past? Hard to believe someone would have the cajones to even suggest it in Montreal. An American coming to Toronto and doing the same thing here must be raising similar feelings in some Leaf fans.
    It is at the very least insensitive. Removing the photos seems like the move of a small minded person with an over-inflated self-importance.
    But still nowhere as bad as Ballard sending the Gondola to the garbage dump.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Like you, those photos meant everything to me the first time I visited the Gardens in the mid-'60s, and any time I was able to afterwards, Steve.

    And no, I can't conceive any incoming "executive' in Montreal doing this sort of thing. Unthinkable. And yes, we both remember the Ballard/Hewitt/gondola mess, no fault of Foster's, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like history. I have a graduate degree in history. I view most things in life through a historical lens. It helps me make sense of the world, and more informed decisions.


    I cheer for the Leafs partly because they are a team of history. That 60's player, Dave Keon was my dad's favorite player. That connection to the players of 60's Leafs always makes the current Leafs just a little more endearing.


    I'm in the West, so I don't have the same connection of locality. The Leafs are not the NHL team of my city. If I wanted a team without history, I could cheer for the Columbus Blue Jackets. I'm sure their executives also want to win.

    The 2013/2014 Leafs are going to have to be good. Some very likeable players are gone: Grabovski, Frattin, Scrivens. I always enjoyed hearing what Dallas Eakins was doing with the Marlies, but now he is gone.

    Now they remove 60's era Leafs photos?

    So far, the new Leafs are proving to be harder to like than last year's version. If they miss the playoffs it could be a brutal year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me say DP that you are consistently not only one of the thoughtful but also positive voices here when it comes to the Leafs. That you have this perspective tells me this guy really is off-base, and way off the mark.

      It feels like he is kicking those of us who have stood by this franchise (not just the "team" or the players, but the crest and the organization's history) to the curb. I'm sure that's not his intent...or is it?

      You appreciate history, as do I. Of course the current team matters now and fans want them to win now, but they still matter now in large part because of the foundation set seventy and 80 years ago...thanks DP, well said.

      Delete
    2. Well there are things to be happy about.

      At Leafs development camp David Broll was one of the most impressive prospects. He was hitting everything (I think he injured 2 guys) plus he was making terrific passes:

      "Each time David Broll steps on the ice, people are aware and he makes noise. Broll caught Granberg attempting to clear the puck and knocked him on his posterior during the second period of play. Having said that, not only can he hit but he made a solid saucer pass to an area of the ice where his line mate skated directly to it for an excellent scoring opportunity."

      A 20 year-old 240 lb playmaking enforcer that can make saucer passes in an intriguing thought. I have seen video of Broll and his passing skill is yards above NHL enforcers.

      The idea of Broll being able to push arround a smaller Milan Lucic while getting assists makes me smile. I doubt Broll ever makes it off the 4th line in the NHL, but he might be quite a good 4th line guy. One phrase I have never heard: "Colton Orr with a terrific saucer pass."

      Delete
    3. I appreciate hearing the latest about Broll, DP. You've mentioned him before as a potential fourth-line guy, but one who can be a difference-maker. I'll make sure to keep an eye on him when training camp opens in September. You can't teach size, and if he brings skills to the table, too, all the better...

      Delete
    4. Boy, I just stumbled on this and it was like reading one of my own posts. I haven't seen too much of Broll - just his Marlies games, none of his games in the O - but what I have seen I love. I think his absolute minimum potential is as a quality enforcer in the NHL. As far as I'm concerned, he has already replaced Devane in what was supposed to be his role on the Marlies. I think this clip from YouTube demonstrates well the reasons why -

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNset3PpRlY

      Sol is like 6'5" or something and straight out of the pile as a rookie comes Broll and with enthusiasm - look at that bucket toss! - and then his technique, for a 20 year old, my Lord! Sets the big man up with a left jab then over the top for a huge punch. And then one more huge right and crumples him. Fantastic!

      And that was at a time when the Marlies were badly getting pushed around. So that's the enforcement: A+

      As to his hockey skills - deceptively good skater like Biggs, strong in the corners, essentially impossible to move off the puck once he's established position, good passing as you say, otherwise unremarkable to me. As a 5th round pick (that what it was?), Broll was an absolute steal. Like Leivo in the 3rd. Biggs, not so much.

      Delete
    5. Lots to like, Daniel. Anytime, as I discussed above with DP, that the Leafs can develop a player with true toughness (who can also fight) and has some talent as well, that will help a ton. Fourth-line guys are so important nowadays. If they can play, and the coach is comfortable giving them ice time, it's a huge factor on a good team. Thanks for posting, Daniel.

      Delete
  9. Michael,

    I completely agree with you. Leiweke reminds me of another blowhard we had very recently in...Brian Burke. The difference was Burke could mold the team into what he wanted it to be because he was the GM. Not just some useless suit that has no involvement in day-to-day operations.

    I find it ridiculous that a bunch of Leafs fans are praising what Leiweke says now but you ask them about Burke and they completely dismiss him for being a blowhard. What a bunch of, excuse my French, horse shit. But...it is what it is, in with the new out with the old. That definitely appears to be Leiweke's new mandate anyways. All I know is if I were involved with the Leafs in some capacity I wouldn't be sitting there planning a freaking parade or signing my daughters soon-to-be husband (think Troy Bodie, we signed him earlier this week). This guy seems to be full of himself but unlike Burke, he has nothing to do with the actual building of a winner. Burke set this team up well before he was dismissed. I don't particularly like what Nonis is doing so far but here we are talking about an extension being put in place. Meh, it is what it is I suppose.

    Always good to hear from you, Michael :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I acknowledge I was not as big a Burke enthusiast as you, Sasko, I respect the fact that Burke worked hard to improve the club, he did some good things here and he was, as you say, involved moment-to-moment.

      I fear this guy will in fact be involved day-to-day, but the problem is he shouldn't be because he doesn't have a clue. This guy knows a hockey player any more than you or I or millions of "fans"? C'mon.

      Thanks Sasko. I always enjoy hearing your take on things. Talk soon...

      Delete
  10. My question is: Why stop at taking down historical photographs? Let’s just get it done. Why not gather all of the Maple Leaf historical artifacts in one gigantic pile on Maple Leaf Square and have a spectacular bonfire? Like all great sports franchises the Leafs are not about championships as much as they are about our history and culture. Great sports teams are about the place they occupy in our hearts and minds as a tenuous coherence, an energy which resonates from blood and sweat photographs hanging from hallowed walls. Without doubt, any attempt to erase history and culture is an antagonistic act bound to enrage supporters and former employees alike. What is more surprising is that it would come from a man with, in the true historical context, about as much significance to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a pigeon dropping stuck to a rafter of the venerate old Gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved every word of that, Bobby C.- just the right smattering of history, perspective and sarcasm (though what you penned was much better than mere sarcasm).

      I always appreciate well-penned condemnation. Thanks Bobby.

      Delete
  11. Michael, I'm going to share a story with you that may help explain my feelings about Leiweke's decision to have the historical photos removed.

    I used to work on a airforce base and in one of the main operational buildings. Being an older building, it was completely renovated one year, and once completed it was a very modern and new facility. The recently appointed Operations Officer (who was an avid historian) decided the walls of this new facility would depict many large historical photos of military planes flown by the RCAF in the 50's & 60's. Many people (including myself) take great pride in our history, and past achievements, and that it should be honoured.

    The contrast though was this new modern facility, laced with vintage photographs, and no depiction of the transition to modern day. Visiting aircrew (especially those from other countries) would walk through these halls, and wonder to themselves "are they still flying these birds?", or "what have they doing in the last 50 years?".

    Since retired, I have been back to visit the building in which I worked, and I was proud to see that a new Operations Officer had stepped in and elected to make changes to the wall displays. Now the vintage posters greet you as you start to enter the building and the first main hall, but then transition through the years to the modern aircraft flown today, as well as vibrant posters depicting the main squadrons of the base.

    By sharing this story, I just wanted to show the need for organizations to take pride in their past, honour that past, but also take pride in what has changed over the years, and successes a long the way. You need to proudly illustrate the past, the present and future. If Lieweke can't see the significance of this alone, he has failed before he has even really started. No different than that Operations Officer who laced the walls with nothing but historical photos. Good intentions maybe, but naive and narrow-minded thinking.

    Owners decision to bring in Lieweke now make me questions their other decisions since taking over MLSE. *gulp*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing that story, Don (TML_fan). It wonderfully illustrates what I was trying to convey, and much better than I did in my rambling piece.

      I so agree- the past in isolation and without context is not much of a measuring stick (or influence) on the present. But thoughtfully weaved together, an understanding of the true history of an organization - the good and the not-so-good - can do wonders for current staffers in any workplace. And in the case of the Maple Leafs, that includes today's players.

      I, too, now worry and wonder about the instincts of this ownership group. Where can you find a Mike Illitch these days? Thanks Don.

      Delete
  12. Three things hit me immediately as I read the article.

    I'm sure you know how I feel about the pictures. Many of those pictures adorned the Maple Leaf Gardens walls and were a great source of pleasure for Leaf fans over the years. It is difficult to conceive Leiweke's thought (or lack of) process on this issue.

    "Plan the parade" is a catch-phrase that provides a great deal of glee to those who would mock Leaf fans. Leiweke is playing right into their hands and providing more grist for the mill.

    I think we are witnessing, in Leiweke, the second coming of Brian Burke. I am not saying either of them is remotely incompetent, only that I abhor their bombastic styles...and I was just beginning to enjoy Nonis' laid back demeanor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're likely very similar in this regard, Pete Cam, in that we don't appreciate hubris and unnecessary bombast, which this new guy seems to have in abundance.

      It's a shame. He may well be a qualified, experienced individual (by all accounts, he is) but in my view he has already mis-stepped seriously in how he handled the Raptors GM situation (not firing Colangelo, but the peculiar way that all unfolded) and now the Leafs. I fear his fingerprints will be all over this team, and that's not good. It was bad enough when Peddie interceded in hockey matters and he was clueless, too.

      And you're so right- the whole parade thing a standing joke. Why did he even go there? Does he even understand this market? Thanks Pete.

      Delete
  13. InTIMinator? InTIM-Dumb-inator?

    It appears he has managed to reach Harold Ballard Status in less than a month. He must be incredibly fast, or very dumb. It looks like both. It doesn't look like he read "Dale Carnegie's How to Win and Influence People".

    Like many here, I have good memories of walking through the halls of Maple Leaf Gardens viewing history. I have never been to ACC, but have asked Toronto based friends to make a comparison for me. They have generally said 'none', in a negative tone. (For me, a future posting on this subject would be very interesting).

    A view of team sports suggests that History and Legacy are a very important part of selling that sports team. What are the Yankees without Babe Ruth, the Packers without Lombardi, the Dodgers without Jackie Robinson - and many others.

    I have lived in Atlanta now for 30 years, and Bulldog fans will never forget Hershel Walker and the National Championship in 1980. Going to a big Georgia game is an incredible experience. But, how do 30,000 students fill a stadium with 95,000 fans - Answer: History, Legacy, etc. My non-fan daughter has attended baseball games in Wrigley Field and Fenway Park and found the experience incredible - History? The Leafs have the same cachet.

    It is no mystery why "the Original Six" are still among the most successful, while most of the expansion teams are still trying (unsuccessfully)to build a similar legacy and history. If they could buy it, they would, not throw it away.

    While you cannot live on this history for ever, why would anyone voluntarily throw this away. If he believes that he can build an equivalent legacy in a 30 team capped league he is very naive. I am sure that Bell and Rogers paid a lot for this "goodwill" when they were paying an outrageous? sum for MLSE. If I were either company, I am not sure I would condone dumping on my sports investment, or impacting my corporate Name.

    So, while I can see no logical business reason why Tim would do this, maybe he is just trying to keep the Leafs in the spotlight in a dead period. It appears he has accomplished this, but at what cost.

    As an individual owner there was not much fans could do about Ballard. In a corporate environment, this type of shenanigan will grease the skids.

    While we both would like to see a 24 team league, I am sure many want to know where to get tickets for the "Markham Whatchamacallits".















    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Superb post, Ralph (RLMcC).

      I love the Dale Carnegie reference, and you're right- this guy smacks of hubris, which is fine, I guess, until that collides with showing zero respect for what amounts to a Canadian institution -and a fan base - that employs him (we help pay his salary).

      All the names you cite- Ruth, Lombardi, Robinson (and we could throw in Gehrig, Starr, Campanella and many others) are indeed tied inexorably to the guts of the franchises they played for. To in any way cut that off, as this guy is doing with the Leafs, is sadly misguided.

      Keeping the Leafs in the spotlight is great. Doing it in this fashion is, well, bad form. Great stuff, thanks Ralph.

      Delete
  14. I really hope Mr. Leiweke takes the time to read the thoughtful perspectives of longtime Leaf fans (and where better than Vintage Leaf Memories - where the past meets the present in a wonderful synergy that ought to be reflected in the ACC).

    If the pictures in the hallway that the players traverse on their way to the ice are the only ones that have been removed, then I have three things to say to Mr. Leiweke:

    First, that was a rather ham-fisted approach to addressing the 'problem' you are perceiving;

    Second, you apparently gave little (to no) thought about how you would be perceived in this marketplace, and:

    Third, you could have cut the bombastic blustering and prefaced your comments with an intent to honour the history represented by those photos in a public viewing area (even if you rotate them in smaller groupings). Perhaps it's not too late for some damage control.

    We honour the crest and the heritage of the Maple Leafs, not some corporate talking head... so humble yourself and get to know the people who have been here a lot longer than you, Mr. Leiweke!

    I am hopeful that the photo removals are limited to the players' hallway space where 'they' have chosen to test out their 'theory' about a winning culture AND and that those photos are merely 'removed to' a display case where the fans can enjoy a trip down memory lane.

    We really don't need to be alienated from our common historical journey as workers or fans, perhaps our 'sensitivity' to the issue will give the corporate heads some pause for thought (it's never too late for some of that!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for that, inTimeFor62.

      Not that this person cares (at least he presents as though the only opinion that matters is his), but if someone "new" on the job doesn't want to be perceived as a thoughtless outsider, a bit of sensitivity training might be in order. Study the franchise's history, the fan base- young and old. Show you care- and not just about doubling the "value" of the franchise for ownership.

      "Success" has gone to this guy's head, clearly. He figures he can blow into town and talk like he is "the man". Well, here, the fans are "the man", because we appreciate and respect what has come before us. Thanks, InTimeFor62.

      Delete
  15. Follow-up observation for Mr. Leiweke:

    If you want to double the value of your corporate interests, why would you alienate the fan base of the most valuable element that has grown despite failing to win the cup since '67? Do you not risk squandering the cache of a historical connection that has allowed the franchise to line the ownership coffers during extended periods of disappointment (and downright futility).

    We are the fans that have survived precisely because of the heritage and hopes we hold in our hearts... tread softly, Mr. Leiweke...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here's 'the' quote that churns the stomach (if some haven't seen it):

    “I don’t want the players walking in the hallways of the Air Canada Centre and seeing pictures from 1962,” Leiweke said. “Get rid of those pictures and tell them, this is your legacy.”

    I sure hope the pictures from 1962 are actually there for ME to see, whenever I may make it that far east again!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Reading that line was a kick to the gut. Does this blow hard really think some player walking past a photo from the past, would decide he does not have to play his best because some team has already done it. He shows he knows nothing about the Leafs. From not knowing what a stupid thing it was to talk about a parade, to saying I don't know this other fellow is as good was as Bernier? How do you not know how your players play. I found it interesting on sports net they had the story and a poll, asking if the photos should be taking down. It was 70% against and people were giving it to him in the comments. Later that day the story was edited and the poll taken down, and all the comments were gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to hear from you, Dave. Could it be that the powers-that-be at MLSE, owned by Bell and Rogers, told Rogers Sportsnet to take the poll down because it showed them organization in a bad light? The perils of of censorship via media ownership, eh?

      This guy clearly does not care who he offends. He wants to go down in history. He already has a long way to go to gain back the respect he never earned here in the first place. Thanks Dave.

      Delete
  18. Another reason Leiwicke's pronouncement is a red herring: as a former MLSE worker, I can confidently say that you are more likely to run into a Leafs player during an underwater ocean cruise on the other side of the world than in one of the ACC's public hallways or concourses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I just do not see why the photo thing was even an issue for him....

      Delete
  19. David Clarkson was widely quoted concerning the importance of the Leaf's heritage, particularly Wendel Clark, in his decision to join the Leafs I hope for his sake they leave any photos of Wendel on the walls. Perhaps Gustafson would feel the same way seeing photos of Hammarstrom and Salming? Which is a way of saying that for some players the photos may well be inspiring - sure they are all pros, but they are also human.

    And a comment about David Broll, who I had the chance to watch many times during his time here with the Greyhounds. He was really a man playing among boys in his time here, with above average speed and fairly good hands. He was not a prolific scorer in junior, but did score some nice goals from time to time. While he was able to fight, he more often just calmed down the other team when it looked like things might erupt for Hounds that were not fighters. That said, he was never shy about dropping the gloves when needed.
    I doubt very much that Broll becomes an enforcer in the NHL. I see him more as an up and down the lane, big, speedy winger who can inject some energy when needed. Not afraid to drop the gloves but I don't see him having that as his primary role. I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops in the Leaf's system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Clarkson reference fits very much with what we have batted around here the last couple of days, Steve. Appreciating or acknowledging the past doesn't mean you are obsessed with it- simply that you recognize that it means something.

      As for Broll, I'd be fine with the player that you described. You had a first-hand view. We don't necessarily need a big-time fighter, but we always need guys who are hard on the puck and are difficult to play against. Thanks Steve.

      Delete
  20. I get where he's coming from but not necessarily agree with it. As with most leafs fans, what I remembered most were the sad Ballard Years while tempered with moments of joy during the 93 run and the Quinn era. Still it is difficult not to be reminded of 67 whenever the Leafs subject is brought up. Personally I think the Toronto market demands a strong type A personality bordering on psychopathy.

    Let's face it, win or lose, Leafs nation will always be there and that means the money will never be in short supply. Truth to be told that this demotivates the willingness to take risks in order to win. Professional sports is unique in ways that it imitates most business processes and practices but are ultimately unpredictable. So taking risks in a typical business fashion rarely are applicable to sports. That being the case, it is difficult to fathom the need to 'rock the boat'. That seemed to have happened throughout recent memory. In this case, it requires someone that is motivated by the accolades received from winning. Someone that wished to be worshiped by the masses. Someone that perhaps is self-serving and narcissistic to a degree that winning and only winning matters.

    I think most of leafs fans remembers Leafs tradition as Saturday night prime time, CHCH Wednesday night hockey watching with our idolized father or friends rather than the tradition of winning on the ice. To be reminded of the wining past also will likely to be reminded of the almost 40 years of failures. That said, I understands his motivation - to start anew. But I also think that there are room for both honouring the past while creating a new legacy. I don't agree with him but understand the motivation. We all know at the end of the day, the Leafs organization have never been on very good at honouring anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like what you wrote, Lukas. Very fair.

      For sure, any new "leader" deserves the opportunity to develop his own vision and all that. I don't think any of us is saying we should be stuck in the past, especially parts of the past that were not all that impressive.

      But for me, it's a question of balance and respect. I'd prefer a strong, quiet leader (the Red Wings...whether it be ownership or management people, don't just talk their fans to death...). I realize, as you say, this is a different market, so the 'need' may be different, too.

      I'm all for positive thinking and having a real plan for success. I just didn't like hearing this guy talk the way he did about the past. Toronto fans will be here long after he's gone. Thanks Lukas.

      Delete
  21. I feel every word posted here and I really think it's outrageous for a new suit to walk in and erase the history of the Maple Leafs with one sweeping brushstroke like this. I absolutely HATE everything about types like him and his superiors and what they stand for. I am disgusted by the acquisition of his son-in-law and his comments on "the guy we inherited". He's an arrogant, ignorant prick.

    Having said that I must admit that I'm kind of excited about what's been going on with the Leafs lately and I see Leiweke as the final step in the process of 'getting our pride back' and pushing for the Cup - a process that started with the hiring of Burke. I think Leiweke is pretty much the only guy in the NHL who has the power to swing some kind of blockbuster trade to get us Crosby or Toews. He does have a serious resume (much like Burke did) and he may well be exactly what we need - a modern, arrogant, megalomaniac that won't settle for less than all the gold and winning.

    I kind of like the narrative: An old franchise that's been living in the ancient past and that's become a laughing-stock of the sports world gets bought by a huge monopoly corporation and goes for the home run and gets a bunch of brutal corporate slayers who have their eye firmly on the prize to run it and they win. This is happening just as T. is becoming North America's 4th largest city (right after LA) and is indeed becoming for real the center of the universe - growing and extending (Boston's home arena is called Toronto Dominion). I like the hype and I like the fact that free agents are finally becoming excited to sign here - we've taken a huge stride forward this past season and we are feared and respected for the first time in forever.

    If you remember some of my earlier posts you'll know how I feel about the establishment and the place of pro-sports in it and especially about the disrespect for the people that matter, namely the fans who care and were there in the old days and are still watching and blogging and living and breathing blue and white. But I know that the corporate world is what it is and I think it would be foolish to expect it to be anything else. You don't win the cup with good hard-working home-town elders in charge and on the ice. You win by bringing in the best 'pieces' and by investing heavily in every aspect of the project and it is guys like Leiweke and Burke and Bell/Rogers that are the winners in today's society.

    I know that I sold my soul when I took on cheering for the Leafs - there ain't nothing just or fair about this game, there's no good guys and there's definitely no good corporate CEOs or good corporations. It's a game and it's a corporate game. I think the choice we're facing is either send them all to hell (as quite a few old Leafs fans have done) and watch the kids in minor or run with the devil. I made my choice. I like the show. The show must go on.
    It's time to plan the parade.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I well recall your earlier (always thoughtful) posts, leafdreamer. Today, you well touch on the unnerving (for some of us) dance that we must do to cheer for the team we have loved for generations, while recognizing the world (including the sports/hockey world) has been taken in a direction some of us don't like.

      You're right. It is what it is. Nowadays teams are generally run by corporations and slick-talking folks who are hired guns, with no loyalty to the past.

      I guess if this gets the Leafs to the promised land...

      Thanks leafdreamer.

      Delete
  22. Hi Michael,

    I am a little late to this discussion, thought I would add, or try to as the case may be. First, another new corporate leader has come down from the heavens, here to impart all of his great wisdom. I have heard this story before, culture change, more mindless crap, it never ends. From Stavro, JFJ, Peddie, Burke, Leiweke, Colangelo, this is the same recycled quasi motivational garbage that I have heard a thousand times before. I can't wait til his next interview where he spouts off about paradigm shifts, divsestiture, and thinking outside the box, all things that have no real meaning. Yet, they are constantly trotted out by these corporate suits, trying to sound like they actually have a clue. They don't, a new CEO will come along in a few years, saying the same thing but using new improved words made up by the marketing department.

    We have talked about the over reliance on history before. We both see this the same way, its nice to remember Bower, just not every Saturday night. If the Leafs don't win the Cup in the next 20 years is Darcy Tucker going to be trotted out to centre ice to remember past victories? Its bad enough Tiger WIlliams gets to drive an armoured vehicle on the ice. I personally can't wait for Tie Domi's ring of excellence night. I hope they show his mauling of Niedermayer in the 2001 playoffs. There is just too much of this on the part of MLSE, way too much. It really is offensive at some level. The constant reminder of teams past, seems to me to be a carnival, or magicians trick at this point. Look over here, and ignore what you are seeing right in front of you. Pay no attention to the forty five years of futility, remember all the great teams that were around before most of you were born. It comes across as an organization who has no present, or future and limps along on past victories.

    Finally, I could really care less if old photos are removed from the players areas of the ACC. I believe all of those players and their triumphs occurred at Maple Leaf Gardens, not the ACC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting, Jim. You could throw Tanenbaum's name in the mix, too. If people find this new guy inspiring, great. I don't.

      Delete
  23. I know I already sent you this link on Twitter, Michael, but thought I would post it here as well for those who may not be on there.
    I received an email from MLSE asking me to fill out a survey on my thoughts on the Leafs. This is a perfect opportunity to let them know how you feel about these issues and others. It is a short questionnaire and at the end there is an open question asking if you have anything else you'd like to tell them about the Leafs...I wrote a few paragraphs!
    Here's the link to the 'Fans First' website:

    https://www.mlsefansfirst.com/Portal/default.aspx

    You have to create an account first which is pretty simple.
    Feel free to pass on to all in Leafs Nation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It would appear that Tim Leiweke has struck a balance between 'humbling himself' with a sincere apology for the offense his words have caused and 'holding his ground' on what he intended to convey.

    I'm actually quite impressed with the sensitivity he has shown and the backbone to state his focus for the players.

    Perhaps he was listening to voices that needed to be heard...

    Here's the TSN article link:
    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=428187

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for that link, InTimeFor62. Apologies are nice, as long as they are sincere and not just about saving face. This guy really, really missed the mark with his initial comments. No one suggests the current players/team should not build their own "legacy" and strive to win a Cup, but he still speaks as though the previous team leaders (players, coaches and GM's) did not fight their ass off for that very thing. Does he really believe he is the first executive here that thinks winning a Cup is a good idea? I know some of the people who have worked for the Leafs. Winning a Cup was indeed all they thought about, in professional terms.

    If Leiweke thinks Pat Burns, Pat Quinn and all kinds of players did not work their tail off to establish a modern-day Leaf legacy, he could not be more wrong. I still don't think he "gets" it, but whatever. He likely never will- or it will take a long, long time for him to truly understand what being a Leaf- and a Leaf supporter - is about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great points regarding the predecessors working their tails off and the perception that HE is the only one who can turn things around.

      My primary hope is that, at the very least, Mr. Leiweke becomes more sensitive to the world he has entered... I hope the article reflects a genuine apology (not just a corporate OOPS).

      The proof will be in the pudding! Let's see how he acts in the future, I'm just appreciating that the need was great enough to have been 'addressed'.

      Glad you're on the watchtower giving us a voice!

      Delete
  26. Agreed, InTimeFor62. And I appreciate that you took the time to make me aware of this piece. It would be nice to think our voices were at least 'heard' a bit in the halls of MLSE....

    ReplyDelete
  27. I guess Mr. Leiweke thought he should start with the least of our problems. It is not his fault that he does not understand the culture. The history of the Leafs is wrapped up in the history of our nation. I doubt he sees it that way, and even if we do not realize this consciously, we have that feeling in our gut. The man who shouted greetings to everyone entering Maple Leaf Gardens, fought in the trenches with Conn Smythe. The voice of Foster Hewitt was a voice from home for soldiers overseas in the second world war. Our history is part of our understanding of what it means to be Canadian. How is a man breezing into town, sneering at photographs of champions, set on changing things, going to know that? Even if he hired someone to get him up to speed, he would not have that same feeling in his heart. The best we could hope for is a modicum of understanding and a respect for our great country. We are emotionally involved. Perhaps he will come to understand that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautifully said- thanks for posting on this subject, Elizabeth. Let's hope that, over time, he will come to fully appreciate the opportunity he has been given...

      Delete