The usually unflappable Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. chairman Larry Tanenbaum was almost at a loss for words yesterday.
Tanenbaum's plan was to show up at the Air Canada Centre yesterday and lend support to Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell, who had just signed a new four-year deal with the club. But he got more than he bargained for.
After answering some questions about the Raptors, including his pledge to do what he can to help the team become an NBA dynasty, Tanenbaum was asked if he will be cheering for Toronto's archrivals, the Ottawa Senators, in the upcoming Stanley Cup final.
"Do we have to talk about that now?" the MLSEL chair said.
Pressed, Tanenbaum said he was "very proud" that a Canadian team is competing for the Cup and that it deserves to come back to Canada.
When asked if Ottawa appearing in the Stanley Cup final puts more pressure on MLSEL to develop the Maple Leafs into a championship team, Tanenbaum replied: "We have pressure on us each and every year to win that Cup. So if we're not there winning the Cup (this season), then we bloody well better be there next year to try to win, and that's what we're going to do."
He was asked, one final time, if he was going to actually cheer for Ottawa in the Stanley Cup final.
Laughing, Tanenbaum replied: "You guys are ... well, I'm proud that there's a Canadian team. And I wish them luck."