Richard Peddie Wrap Up

Pardon my tardiness, but lots going on and as promised here’s a rundown on les affairs Richard Peddie. I found the way the story unfolded fascinating.

So, at 12:33 Greg Brady was on Hockey Central at noon and announced the news, while simultaneously posting on twitter the following:

“Multiple sources confirm Richard Peddie is being replaced as Pres/CEO of MLSE. A search group has been hired by MLSE for his replacement.”

He continued on:

“MLSE will consider internal applicants for Peddie’s position. They’re expected to look at candidates both in Canada & the United States. To clarify: no date set but I’m told on very good authority, Peddie will leave his post within several months. Firm’s been hired to search.”

So that was the item which got the fire roaring.

It was really fascinating to watch how the MSMers out there covered it. Consider again that the story as reported by Brady was that Peddie’s tenure as President of MLSE was going to end. He didn’t say Peddie was being fired per se. What he said was, as he wrote in his blog:

“Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has recently enlisted a consulting firm/headhunter to search high and low for a replacement for Richard Peddie, who at some point in the next several months, will take leave of his position, which he’s held since 1998. They’ll consider internal and external candidates, and obviously candidates on either side of the 49th Parallel. You never know, maybe a bright shining light emerges from Europe, maybe someone Peddie or Anselmi met in their soccer travels in the United Kingdom.

All this naturally attracted some attention and raised some questions. First off, Peddie isn’t being fired, but yes, there’s a succession plan that will end up “replacing” him. He may not like the term “replaced”, but given many people he summarily gave the gaspipe too probably didn’t like any term Peddie used in moving them along to other walks of employment. ”

Now, here’s another disclaimer. I know that for the most part Peddie is the mouth of MLSE. No one else there speaks publicly.

Having said that, I find it rather funny, given the topic that the first reaction was to run to Peddie. The story, if accurate was broken by a media outlet. There was no press conference. I don’t think this was leaked, Peddie wasn’t there and neither were any board members from MLSE. So, if the story is Peddie is going to leave, doesn’t that make him less than the ideal person to speak about? I mean, he has the reputation of having an ego, few get to that job without one, but really, if he were being pushed out, which could be as innocent as just simply not renewing a contract or just time for a change, what exactly is he going to say? Peddie is in the business of controlling messages and in this instance he didn’t get to do so. What’s he going to say, I am not being pushed out, I am not being fired?

Now, keeping in mind what Brady reported, the story spread like a wildfire. It was everywhere. However, it was as if those re-reporting the story didn’t quite understand what exactly Brady had said:

“Peddie calls retirement talk ‘premature’”

Was the headline on the Toronto Star story.

“Richard Peddie readily concedes that his retirement as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is on the horizon.

But, he says, the sun isn’t setting on his career just yet. The 63-year-old won’t confirm this will be his last hockey season at the helm as speculation grows that he will depart in April or after a Leafs’ playoff run, whichever comes first.

Peddie called such conjecture “premature” and said there is no timetable in place for him to leave.”

Well, what Brady said was that the process was under way and the current Leaf and Raptors seasons would likely be his last. So, does that mean it’s imminent? Again, what exactly was Peddie going to say??

Darren Dreger reported on twitter: “Richard Peddie responds to rumours he’s leaving MLSE telling TSN: “Still speculation. Not going anywhere for awhile yet.”

Once again, that isn’t what the story was and furthermore, consider the source of the “denial”

Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie seemed to have it right when he tweeted:

“But that quote is suitably vague and doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not on way out once replacement is found. Certainly not outright denial.”

Exactly. That seems to be the right reaction to Peddie’s retort and more so Brady’s story.

So that went round and round for several hours until a few writers started putting full stories out.

First up was Michael Grange.

“Richard Peddie is to be replaced as president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment by late spring or early summer.”

Now, I don’t know if the story is true or not. What I do know is that is exactly what Brady reported.

“According a source close to MLSE, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, the organization has a succession plan in place but it’s expected Peddie will exit gracefully. ”

Again, I have no clue whether it’s true or not, but it gels with what the story that came on the air doesn’t it?

The most compelling part of Grange’s article:

“Peddie wouldn’t comment when asked if a consulting group had been hired or a search committee struck, but said he expects to have a role in finding his successor.

“I won’t have the final say, but they value my perspective,” he said. “It’s the only job in North America with multiple teams and the business side reporting to the CEO. We have four teams [including the Marlies of the American Hockey League], we have three television networks, Maple Leaf Square – it’s very complex.”

One, a non-denial on the first part is extremely telling, in my opinion. Let’s put it this way, if it weren’t true it would have been summarily dismissed. Secondly, obviously this is a hot button topic as Peddie readily admits the specifics have been discussed, including his role in finding a replacement.

Over at the National Post, Bruce Arthur offered a similar story:

“Richard Peddie will leave his post as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. When, however, remains a question.A report by The Fan 590 radio station Wednesday claimed the process had begun, and that a headhunting firm had been retained by MLSE to replace Peddie. Reached at his offence, Peddie would only deny that anything was imminent.”

All factual at least in terms of the report by the Fan 590. One has to wonder what exactly Clinton, errr I mean, Peddie means by imminent.

“However, when asked if it was true an external firm had been hired to identify his successor, Peddie declined to comment other than to say that would be a new development in the succession process.”

Once again I ask, if it weren’t true, why wouldn’t he admit it. Very easy to deny if not true. Isn’t the non-denial by default an admission?

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated; I hate the word ‘replace’ because it sounds so onerous,” said Peddie. 
I’m not going anywhere, but connect the dots. At a point I will go someplace. I mean, I’m going to be 64 in January, I’ve been in this job much, much longer than the average CEO.”

Who exactly said he was “dead” (And I know it’s a famous quote he is using). King Richard has earned his investors tons of cash. There is no question of the off ice/court victories. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever match the successes off the field as he has. The only problem is, there is no real value one could put on winning. The math is simple to calculate the gates for MLSE if either team had won while he was in power. The additional revenues would make condo’s look like peanuts.

Steve Simmons pulled no punches at the Toronto Sun the next morning:

“It isn’t just time for Richard Peddie to leave. It’s overtime.

He used to sell packaged goods and if anyone understands best before dates, it is him.

Peddie likes to point to all his successes — four professional sporting franchises under his watch, three television networks, the condos, office towers and sports bar that is Maple Leafs Square — and it has been a massive undertaking for the king of bafflegab.

As a businessman, he has been an immense success.

As a sportsperson, he has been a dismal failure.

Unfortunately, his job, as president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., meant he needed to be successful as both.”

It’s hard to argue with any of that analysis.

Michael Grange wrote a follow up story as well:

“When FAN 590 host Greg Brady tweeted that Peddie was going to be replaced, my first reaction was that it was the wrong word: He’ll be replaced, but it will be at a time close to his choosing, and it will be a graceful exit; a distinction confirmed yesterday by a source close to the MLSE board who wanted to remain anonymous.

Peddie’s moment will come on a quiet day in late spring; removed enough from the debacle that it looks like the Leafs and Raptors are headed for, but not too close to next season that the new guy will have all the runway he needs for 2011-12. ”

Interesting times to say the least. Lets just sit and wait to see how this unfolds. It’s likely to get louder and louder as opposed to the alternative.



Greg Brady’s Blog is here

Michael Grange’s story on Richard Peddie is here

Bruce Arthur’s story on Richard Peddie is here

Steve Simmons story on Richard Peddie is here

Michael Granges follow up story on Richard Peddie is here

About the Author