The Toronto Maple Leafs already have an American GM and their best player hails from the States, so why not make it the ownership, too?
A report from the Canadian Press has it that the Rhode Island-based investment firm Providence Equity Partners is interested in buying the 80 percent stake owned in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. The OTPP has said it is looking to sell its share in MLSE.
There isn't a whole lot of information out about the money, or if a bid has even been made, but the asking price for that 80 percent has been reported at $1.5 billion. Compare that to the $170 million True North spent to buy the Thrashers and you can see Toronto is sort of a good hockey market ... in case you didn't already know that. In other news you might now know, the Earth orbits the sun.
Of course, the $1.5 billion goes toward more than just the Maple Leafs. The MLSE also owns and operates the Leafs' AHL partner the Toronto Marlies, the NBA's Raptors and Major League Soccer's Toronto FC as well as the Air Canada Centre. But unlike any other market where both the NBA and NHL are in town, the hockey team is the big acquisition in MLSE.
It's worth nothing that Rogers Communications has also shown interest in buying the 80 percent stake.
But don't panic yet, Toronto. A conflicting report from the Globe and Mail says not to put too much stock into the Providence talk, saying it is unlikely to happen.
In the wake of a published report that Providence Equity Partners LLC, based in Providence, R.I., took a look at buying the 80-per-cent share of MLSE held by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, one investment banker who regularly handles deals with NHL teams said “it makes no sense to me” that Providence would actually make an offer.
The irony just can't escape me of the hockey capital not only of Canada but probably the world is so tied with the USA, in particular if Providence buys MLSE. Canada's top team in Canada's sport in which they are so proud of their excellence and is a source of patriotism having an American feel is just funny. GM Brian Burke already has the image of trying to Americanize the Leafs. But as long as they are all like Phil Kessel, I suppose nobody would care much.
In the end, I'm inclined to go with the Globe and Mail report on the matter. It would just be too odd for the Leafs to be in American control, among many other reasons.