The Toronto Maple Leafs want everything for their birthday. And they’re telling the National Hockey League that they owe it to their fans to give it to them. The team with the longest Stanley Cup drought is looking to host every other major NHL event—the All-Star Game, the NHL Draft and the Winter Classic, not to mention the anticipated 2016 World Cup of Hockey—leading up to or during the club’s 100th anniversary, to be celebrated throughout 2017. Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, recently told Sportsnet that the organization is in the process of bidding for all four events. “It’s not a splash. I just think Toronto—it’s our 100th anniversary, and this is the greatest hockey city on Earth. I think we owe it to our fans. And we’re telling the league that they owe it to our fans,” Leiweke said. “They don’t disagree, but we’ve got to go through a process to win it. I think we’ll win it. I think we’ll get there. But we got to go bid on it.” An NHL spokesman told Sportsnet Monday that the league is not yet ready to announce its event calendar, nor the World Cup, which was last held in 2004. (Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston first reported Toronto as the strongest candidate to host the tournament.) “There’s not some magical formula that you pop in. Some of it has to do with timing and what makes the most sense,” commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet back in February. “It’s based on a whole host of factors: the market, where the team is in terms of its competitiveness, the venue, where we’ve been and where we haven’t been.” Toronto made its Winter Classic debut as a visiting team on Jan. 1, playing Detroit at the Big House in Michigan. Leiweke added that Toronto hosting the 2017 Winter Classic is still dependent on the expansion of BMO Field, home of MLSE’s soccer club, Toronto FC. In April, Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of earmarking $10 million for MLSE’s proposed expansion of the pitch.
Leafs CEO wants Toronto to host all major NHL events in 2017
Sportsnet | Jul 15