One of the interested observers in the room who could be forgiven for perhaps being a bit overwhelmed by the announcement was Ed Stefanski, who in late October was named the executive vice-president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors.
“Mergers, acquisitions,” he said after the press conference had ended. “Is this because I came?”
The Raptors training camp was opening later on Friday and team president and general manager Bryan Colangelo said he was too busy to take a few questions about his thoughts of the new ownership arrangement.
An elated tom Anselmi, the executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, was beaming at the news.
“I was saying to somebody earlier, I really think this is one of those pivotal days in the history of sports and sports business in Canada, and something all Canadians are ultimately going to be really proud of,” he said.
While the deal might make good business sense, it was pointed out to Anselmi that to the average fan the bottom line is how well their teams do on the ice, basketball court or soccer pitch.
“I think we’re on the right track right now,” he said. “If you look at all four teams they’re all heading in the right directions. Our job is to deliver the resources to a general manager and then get out of their way and let them do their job.
“All good organizations start with one thing and that’s stable, solid ownership. You’ve got three companies coming together here that are iconic Canadian companies, especially with Bell and Rogers. These are world-class companies and it only bodes well for this organization going forward.”
Anselmi said the next hurdle is to find a replacement for MLSE president Richard Peddie, who is stepping down at the end of the year.
“I think is hasn’t been something that’s been on the table lately, but obviously it’s going to have to be the next priority for the board,” Anselmi said. “They’re going to get about doing that and make the right decision.”
Anselmi was asked if it is a job he still covets?
“Well, who wouldn’t be interested in this job?” he said. “We’ve got a job to do right now, we’ve got a management team that’s got a lot of work to do, including getting through the closing part of this thing.
“We’ll see what happens.”