New MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke already has the Stanley Cup parade route planned for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Don’t spit out your coffee. We’re serious.
“I have it planned out, and it’s going to be fantastic,” Leiweke said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg’s Hugo Miller and Eric LamJul. “If you can all dream about that and get that in your mind, we’ll have something we’re all driven toward.”
While winning a Stanley Cup may be hard for some Leafs fans to envision, Leiweke is confident – coming from Los Angeles, where he helped oversee a Kings team that won a championship in 2011-12 – he can help turn things around in Toronto.
According to Bloomberg, Leafs employees were surprised how often the new boss mentioned the Stanley Cup when he started working with the organization on June 3.
One man who will certainly be part of Leiweke’s long-term plan with the Leafs is general manager Dave Nonis.
“We’ll probably have some news on that very soon,” Leiweke said. “I’m a big Dave Nonis fan, and I want a culture here that is different than the one I stepped into.”
The Leafs, who haven’t won much of anything since 1967, would surely be open to a new way of thinking.
Leiweke appears interested create an entirely new culture with the Leafs organization — something that could require stripping down the team’s past.
“Winning, above all, is key to turning Maple Leaf Sports around,” Leiweke said. That means sacrificing a few sacred cows, particularly for the Leafs, who haven’t won a Stanley Cup since grabbing four from 1962 to 1967 despite being the richest team in the NHL.
“I don’t want the players walking in the hallways of the Air Canada Centre and seeing pictures from 1962,” Leiweke told Bloomberg. “Get rid of those pictures and tell them, this is your legacy.”
Those changes throughout the Air Canada Centre may not go over well with the team’s fan base and former players.
There’s already been backlash from the oldest living Leaf, 94-year-old Wally Stanowski, who believes taking down the old pictures would be a major mistake.
“They can’t eliminate that stuff,” Stanowski, who played on four Cup-winning teams in the 1940s told the Toronto Sun. “It’s in the books.
“We won cups in 1942, ’45, ’47 and 1948 and you can’t change that,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”
Even though he’s planned the Stanley Cup parade, Leiweke has significant work to do to change the culture of losing and disappointment surrounding the Leafs franchise.
Before last season, the Leafs held the longest playoff drought in the NHL and have not won a Stanley Cup since there were only six teams in the league.