Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is on tap to play a key role in helping solve the National Hockey League's collective bargaining deadlock. A flagship NHL franchise, operating a multi-use venue, with a basketball team that plays under a cap system, MLSEL would be able to offer more business-related expertise to commissioner Gary Bettman than many other clubs.
"I wouldn't call us a Leafs SWAT team or the Ghostbusters, but we have a lot of experience here," club president and CEO Richard Peddie said yesterday. "Not just myself (Peddie's background includes entertainment and communications), but Larry Tanenbaum (MLSEL chairman) is on the NBA board of governors' planning committee and (general manager) John Ferguson spent a couple of years in the league office (in hockey operations and legal matters)."
Before the lockout, Ferguson, as a member of a CBA sub-committee, imparted some knowledge of his field work in player development to the league.
"I did pass along my thoughts on a preparatory basis through my experience in contract negotiation and hockey management, development, the drafting side ... some of the different areas that may certainly be on the table," Ferguson said. "But it's speculative at this point as to who (the NHL) is going to look at in a specific direction for assistance."
Peddie hoped the Leafs would play a role in formulating a league position that the NHL Players' Association could find palatable.
"We're arguably the most significant (franchise) in the league," Peddie said. "We know something of the issues from running a franchise that already works with a salary cap."
Peddie said there should be official word during the next few days regarding the Leafs' scheduled home exhibition games, which are set to become the first casualties of the lockout, which took effect last Thursday.