Rogers and Bell: Running the Toronto Maple Leafs Like a Business (Update 1)
Updated from 7:58 a.m. Jan. 11, 2013 with Brian Burke's reaction to firing.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shortly after the National Hockey League lockout ended, the league's most valuable franchise fired its President and General Manager. The Toronto Maple Leafs ousted Brian Burke.
Shock over "the timing" of the decision colored consensus across the hockey media, even in Canada. As a Leafs fan, who likes Burke, I was hardly surprised. With Rogers Communications (RCI) and BCE (BCE) (formerly Bell Canada) now in charge of the club, the move, while not expected, certainly didn't come out of nowhere.
Toronto Star sports columnist Damien Cox got it (pretty much) right (read the column at The Star's Web site):
Burke got the axe Wednesday morning because Bell
President and CEOGeorge Cope, after months of campaigning for Burke's dismissal, finally wore out the Rogers suits and Leafs minority ownerLarry Tanenbaum ... Cope didn't like Burke's style, his manners, his profanity, his lifestyle.
Big shocker! A corporate suit like Cope doesn't care much for a crude Irishman who, rumor has it, likes to have a drink every now and then (cough, cough, wink, wink). Burke's a loose cannon. That's not going to fly when Rogers and Bell own 75% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Despite getting that part right, Cox showed ignorance vis-a-vis the Rogers-Bell relationship:
This is the first really big sports decision undertaken by the partnership of Bell and Rogers that now controls Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Not only was it done in such a way that should make Leaf fans very worried, it may also be an indication why this corporate partnership of media rivals is destined not to last.
Rivals. I love it!