You're American and you're interested in buying a majority stake in the Toronto Maple Leafs, but you know there would probably be a major backlash by Leafs fans outraged that their beloved franchise is owned by foreign interests. So what do you do?
You reach out to a Canadian icon like Wayne Gretzky to be part of your ownership group. And that, according to Rogers Sportsnet, is what two groups interested in purchasing a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment have done. (Gretzky confirmed as much).
Makes perfect sense.
But here's the deal. Having Wayne Gretzky as part of an ownership group does not guarantee success.
Gretzky was one of the all-time greats, but he hasn't proven that he is able to translate his on-ice magic into off-ice magic. He coached the Phoenix Coyotes for four seasons and missed the playoffs every year, finishing above .500 once (by one game).
Perhaps Leafs fans shouldn't get too excited.
On the other hand, Gretzky was executive director of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and Canada won the gold medal for the first time in 50 years.
Gretzky also had a stake on the Toronto Argos and Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major junior hockey league at one point.
It was reported earlier that the U.S. private equity firm, Providence Equity Partners, was interested in purchasing the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan 79% share in MLSE, and that Providence is one of the groups that has reached out to Gretzky.
LEAFS FALLING LIKE LEAVES
The Leafs are going to have send a bus down to the Ricoh Coliseum to get some reinforcements from the Marlies, who are dealing with injury issues themselves. Already without Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong, the Leafs lost Matthew Lombardi and Mike Komisarek on Thursday's game with unspecified injuries.
FRANSON ON WAY OUT?
Former Predator Cody Franson was back in the lineup, making only his fifth start. The are rumours that Franson is being shopped and that at least one team contacted the Leafs about his services. Leafs GM Brian Burke confirmed the interest but said there are no plans to trade away the 24-year-old defenceman -- though you have to wonder. How valuable is a guy to a team who has been a healthy scratch for most of the season? Especially when you have a young D-man like Jake Gardiner. So, did the Leafs play Franson on Thursday night to showcase his talents?
LEAFS RELATED STUFF
The Leafs were in first place at one point in the Eastern Conference but don't look now, but the Boston Bruins are only two points back of the Leafs with two games in hand after a 2-1 shootout win over Columbus on Thursday, their seventh win in a row. The Leafs are now in sixth place in the East ... Toronto coach Ron Wilson did his pre-game spiel with Paul Hendrick and it looked like he hadn't slept in a week ... On Nashville's second goal, the Predators took possession of the puck when they had seven skaters on the ice. No call ... John-Michael Liles had seven shots on goal, tying a career high ... Joffrey Lupul standing with his head against the glass and some Nashville fan kicked the glass, startling Lupul. Funny stuff ... Nashville sports two Norris Trophy candidates in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, plus 14 and plus 11 respectively in their last 11 games. Both played a strong game last night and kept Phil Kessel off the scoreboard ... Even when Sergei Kostitsyn picks up three assists, he looks lazy.
TOUGH START FOR SCRIVENS
Worst way for a game to start for a goalie. Ben Scrivens had no shots before Martin Erat's goal at 5:48 of the first. It was an awkward goal and Scrivens didn't get the chance to stop any shots before that and get a feel for the puck. But, just like in the Leafs shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, he settled down after a shaky first. Heading into the Nashville game, Scrivens was 2-0, with a 1.44 GAA and a save percentage of .962% on the road this season.