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Columnist: New owners don’t mean championships for Leafs

Larry Tanenbaum; Nadir Mohamed; George Cope; Jane Rowe

Jane Rowe, left, senior vice-president of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, George Cope, second from left, President and CEO of Bell Canada, Nadir Mohamed, second from right, President and CEO of Rogers Communications, and Maple Leags Sports & Entertainment Chairman Larry Tanenbaum attend a news conference in Toronto on Friday Dec. 9, 2011. Canada’s largest telecommunication companies have agreed to buy the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA’s Toronto Raptors in a deal worth about $1.3 billion. Rogers Communications and BCE Inc. announced Friday the purchase of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in one of the richest sports deal in North American history. The deal also includes the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, a minor league hockey team, and the Leafs and Raptors TV stations. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)


The reviews of the new owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs are rolling in, and they’re not all positive.

The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts is one of the skeptics, openly wondering if BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications will get the Leafs any closer to a Stanley Cup championship. And more importantly, if the two corporate giants will care if they don’t.

Shoalts makes reference to the comments made by the two CEOs – Nadir Mohamed ( Rogers) and George Cope (BCE) – at today’s press conference.

“It’s the perfect marriage of content and distribution,” Mohamed said. “Our goal is to leverage content and distribution. This is having access to iconic content.”

Cope chimed in with, “I am 100 per cent convinced the Bell shareholders will make money on their network investments.”

Essentially Shoalts is saying, “That’s great you guys are going to make a lot of money, but what about winning a Stanley Cup?”

It’s a worthwhile question to ask, although I’m not sure it’s a huge concern with a hard salary cap. It’s not very likely BCE and Rogers are going to chisel the Leafs down to the cap floor. Given the potential playoff revenue bonanza, it’s probably worth spending as much money as the CBA allows.

Shoalts points to Rogers’ ownership of the Blue Jays as evidence the company isn’t willing to spend the money to win championships. However, MLB doesn’t have a salary cap and the Jays are stuck in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. It doesn’t make a ton of financial sense to try and outspend those two clubs.

Where I’d agree with Shoalts is that the focus of the press conference should’ve been on winning championships, not making money. The Leafs have already made plenty of money. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967.