This season, I lost all the frustration I had for the failures of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I always knew what was wrong with this team but I always thought that they could do better. Towards the end of last season, I realized, they really can’t.
There are many reason for the last 40 years of a cup dry city of Toronto but by far the biggest reasons for all these years of disappointment has been the ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 1971, Harold Ballard became sole owner of the Maple Leafs after one co-owner sold shares to Ballard and Stafford Smythe. Smythe died six weeks later and he bought out Smythe’s shares. He made himself President and Chairman of the Board.
He was very involved in the team and often got himself involved in the players. He drove Dave Keon out of town and ruined his career by not releasing rights to him. Dave Keon didn’t forgive Ballard of the Leafs organization and never attended the closing of Maple Leafs Gardens. He only reconciled with the team when the organization honoured the 1967 team that won the Stanley Cup. He used his assistance to Hockey Canada during the Summit Series to build public relations to help him out during his tax evasion trials.
Ballard hated European players. The Leafs were only able Borje Salming while Harold Ballard was serving jail time. He later ruined his relationship with Darryl Sittler, when Punch Imlach was brought back in. Imlach destroyed a team that had potential and Sittler was only saved (kept prisoner) by a no-trade clause. Then he back-stabbed his buddy Imlach after Imlach had a heart-attack by never giving him his job back even though he was never fired.
The Leafs were still a financially successful team and Ballard never spent money to improve the team.When they put last names on jerseys, Ballard didn’t want to and when forced put the names on wiht the same colour as the jersey so they were unnoticeable. Ballard died and the organization was pretty much inherited by Steve Stavro.
Stavro led the group which now owns team and sold his shares away. Current owners are Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, CTV, TD Bank and Kilmer Sports (Larry Tanenbaum). Ownership assigned Richard Peddie as President and CEO. They currently own the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Marlies, ACC, Leafs TV, Raps TV, and Maple Leafs Square which will complete in 2009. They are currently making a profit of 13 cents of every dollar. They are the most profitable hockey team in the NHL.
What are the similarities between Ballard and MLSE? The similarities are very disguised. But this is what I think. I think that both ownerships make so much money with the team, they never cared about the success of the team. This was very evident in Ballards days and have been very visible in the MLSE.
How can the Leafs be saved? There are two ways in my opinion. The first way is by hiring a Colangelo type GM who will not allow anyone on top of him to stop him from doing something. The chances of this? Maybe in a couple of years. The second way is for the fans to boycott this organization and refuse to attend any games as long as they own this organization. Force them out. Chances of this? Impossible because of retarded fans.
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