MLSE Pigs? Brian Burke Gone Wild & Peddie At It Again!

Some random thoughts while listening to Al Strachan yabber about nothing while on the Score. In case you missed Al tonight he:

1. Called MLSE “PIGS” for raising ticket prices
2. Claimed that MLSE weren’t listening to Obama’s economic stimulus plan and is sticking it to the little guy by raising ticket prices, charging too much to bars for leafstv, forcing raptors tickets on maple leafs season ticket holders, forcing personal seat licenses on people, forcing TFC ticket holders to buy Marlies tickets.

Before I go any further, and further I shall I go, does anyone care to venture a guess as to whom Brian Burke was scouting while watching the Los Angeles Kings take on the Minnesota Wild this eve? I mean, for a GM to go see a game 7 days before the deadline has to mean something right?

Anyways, back to the Strachan comments. First let’s talk ticket increase. I don’t care what anyone says, this was just plain dumb on the part of MLSE. I know they can charge whatever the hell they want, but the optics of it just plain sucks. No matter what the reasons or the rationale the fact that they chose to do this now reeks of greed. Having said that, and no I am not going to try to defend it, but compare these two comments:

1. “We got to a point where we had to do it [raise ticket prices],” Anselmi said.”It always a challenge,” said Anselmi, when asked how MLSE weighs ticket increases against what the average fan can afford. “We know we ask a lot of our fans. We’re blessed to be in this market. We’re blessed to have the kind of loyalty we do. We don’t take that for granted for one second.”We just got to a place where costs keep going up and we felt we had to do it. We tried to minimize it and make it as painless as possible. I think our fans will understand and we hope they do.” that courtesy of globesports.com

2. “We still have a waiting list of 2,500 people,” said Richard Peddie, president of of MLSE, in describing the demand for Leafs tickets. “The problem is the waiting list only saw 24 seats come due last year.” “People say ‘How can you do this?’ but we have had cumulative price increase of 1% since the lockout,” said Mr. Peddie, whose hockey team looks poised to finish out of the playoffs for a fourth straight year. “We took it seriously because in this economy everybody is getting hammered.” “Selling hot dogs is harder,” said Mr. Peddie, who declined to say how much concession sales are down this year. that from the nationalpost.com

Now, whom do you have more respect for? Someone explain to me how Richard Peddie is allowed to speak to the press? You raise prices in the worst economic times of god knows how many years and you say we have over 2500 people on the waiting list? How arrogant are you. Selling hot dogs is harder???? Are you nuts? Are you expecting sympathy? What kind of comment is that? It is one thing to take advantage of the fact that you have a product that appears to have a ceilingless price and raise your prices, but to rub it in people’s faces at a time like this is deplorable. Anselmi’s comment are at least a little bit softer. They kind of cushion the blow don’t they?

It gets worse folks. Howie got a chance to track down Peddie at the outdoor leaf practice yesterday (why he was there is anyone guess, but I digress), get a load of some of this crap:

“We’re excited to see what Brian can do, but equally excited that we’ve surrounded him with people like Dave Nonis, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ron Wilson,” claimed the CEO. “When we started the [hiring] process a year ago, we wanted to beef up the I-Q, the experience, and the proven winning nature of our management team. I hope Leaf fans will agree that we now have the finest hockey group in my ten years with the company, and probably many years before that.”

Count the “we’s” folks…there are more “we’s” in that sentence then were wii’s at my local ebgames at Christmas! Someone please tel this guy that this team isn’t about him!

“I’ve got an inkling that Brian wants [the team] to get tougher, grittier; he wants to have two really solid lines then two kind of plumber lines to make sure the top six are not getting abused. He wants to do the same thing on the defensive side. We also want to go younger, and I can’t wait to see how he does all that.”

Just shoot me now. You have an inkling? That is all Burke has been saying in any interview he has given since he took the job including his opening press conference! An Inkling???!!!! Please, don’t talk hockey anymore. We will forget the past if you agree to just stop talking hockey.

““Of course we want to win and make the playoffs,” Peddie said. “The people on the board are fans, too. [Chairman] Larry Tanenbaum sits in the seventh row on the aisle and he feels it when the fans are not getting what they want. He hates it when we lose, as do I. And, we also feel losing on the business side.”

I am not sure, is that a dig at the owner for having good seats? Every game I have ever been at Peddie has been right down in that area as well! With ticket prices where they are and the product where it is, don’t take about feeling the losing on the business side; just don’t go there, no one is going to be the list bit sympathetic.

“First of all, we gave [the price hike] a lot of thought. In our math, over the past five years, our total price increase for tickets is one percent. And, what’s inflation over that time… 10, 12 percent? We’ve had a lot of costs go up. The new CBA hasn’t been a big benefit to us. We’re spending in the $50 [millions] on player contracts and we give $10 million to [NHL] revenue sharing. So that’s about a break-even for us — almost the same as it was before [the lockout]. We’ve also put an incredible amount of capital investment in the [Air Canada Centre]. This ticket increase, for instance, doesn’t even pay for half of the new Jumbotron scoreboard that everyone is enjoying this season.”

If you are speaking to corporate Toronto, stop. They don’t want to hear it. If you are talking to the average fan, they don’t give a rats ass about inflation. The reality in our world is that you now live in a cap world, you have fixed player costs, you aren’t spending to the cap, you had, for a short time a huge spike in the Canadian dollar, your building is full, you have tv rights and people are getting let go all over the place and you just raised ticket prices. I am surprised he didn’t try to stick to the fans for building condos! I mean look at the benefit to the fans by having the condos there 🙂 There was no reason to go there. It’s better to say nothing. If you have to say something, keep it short, RESPECTFUL and simple.

Here is what I don’t understand. Peddie is clearly very bright. He has been very successful. Why can’t he keep his mouth shut? Why is he even the one talking on these issues? Isn’t Brian Burke the President of the Toronto Maple Leafs? When (and yes I said when) the Leafs win the cup is Peddie going to run onto the ice and take the cup from Captain Tavares (let me dream okay?)? He has looked the part of the fool on so many occasions in the past, I thought he would have learned to just shut up. I mean when he publicly said that hiring JFJ was a mistake, and JFJ was still a Maple Leaf employee… That was an employment lawyer’s wet dream. It is clear that Peddie works his magic in the business side of things. Why does he continually open his mouth to trip over every stinking word???? How or why was someone not said “we have to keep him in his cage (which is allegedly covered with photos of himself with famous athletes) and away from a microphone?” Since Burke was hired, have we had any more of those types of embarrassing comments? Not a one. With the Raptors reeling, and Colangelo firing a coach, I don’t recall seeing any dumb Peddie comments. Everything went through Bryan Colangelo. Now, as we are 7 days from the deadline he just can’t help himself…there is no I in team pal…stick to what you do best, leave the talking to someone who does that best.

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Eggbert
Eggbert
February 25, 2009 11:24 am

Before the cap the Leaf payroll was around 65mil, it’s now about 20 mil less.This is all about building condos and bank accounts

Jacques Strap
Jacques Strap
February 25, 2009 11:52 am

I’m not a fan of Peddie by any stretch, but you’ve read things into his statements, that frankly, just aren’t there. For example, he knows it’s not about him, that’s precisely why he used “we” instead of “I”…. as President, he speaks for MLSE. As well, he highlighted that Tannenbaum sits in the seats to make the point that he is not in some private box away from the rest of the crowd. The waiting list comment was to say that perhaps it would be ok if some tickets were given up and new people had a shot at getting season’s tickets.

If you’re going to take the media in Toronto to task for their bias, you need to check yours at the door too.

Jacques Strap
Jacques Strap
February 25, 2009 1:21 pm

Things are definitely always up for interpretation. Keep up the great work… I do like the blog a lot.

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