Commissioner Addresses HTR
This is my first post, though I have observed HTR for now a full season. I am the ‘Commissioner’. I am not the Commissioner of the NHL nor do my comments reflect any ideologies of the League Office. I am simply Commissioner to the game of Hockey as I feel I can provide the insight and objectivity commanded by this position. I will attempt to win your respect by establishing my position on my home town team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is also an attempt to thwart your ill-impressions and ridicule of the franchiseThe City of Toronto has suffered TML mismanagement for years, no thanks to the late estranged & volatile Harold Ballard who had majority interests in the franchise through the 80’s & early 90’s. The entire organization lived in fear from Management to the Zamboni driver. The knowledgeable and well-respected Gord Stellick of the Canadian all-sports TV network, The Score, and radio station THE FAN 590, was one of many former employees who just had enough. One of Ballard’s worst antics and now dreaded legacy was his disgust with Europeans. For years Leafs scouts were forbidden to draft Europeans in the entry drafts, fatally passing on young talents like Bure, Fedorov, & Mogilny. With a restricted CHL pool, Leafs scouts embarrassed themselves with a horrific draft record. You Leaf bashers think Antropov was a joke? We had one every year for the past 20 years!!!
This irreversible damage has now been passed on to Steve Stavro who made his fortune on a grocery chain, Knob Hill farms, among other ventures. A die-hard Leaf of humble origins, he fought hard to gain control of his beloved team. In the process he has lost millions in blood money, always channeling his grocer’s profits to his team. Economics & new state-of-the-art supermarkets have finally put him out of business. If you have a front yard, you can understand that it is much more expensive and difficult to plant a 20-yr-old tree than to have planted the seed 20 yrs ago. Stavro’s teams were not very good, but he has been honest to the city about rebuilding a wounded franchise. It has never been a business to Stavro, it was passion, unlike what motivates most of the new owners. Under Stavro’s commitment the 90’s showed promise.
Now TML is part of something bigger & richer – Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment – funded by the ridiculously wealthy Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. Stavro is still in control of the team now with more cash but also more politics. Stavro’s passion remains and the fund managers were quick to recognize two profitable outfits in the Leafs & the basketball Raptors. We may have the money, but we spend reasonably, although the decision-making is still questionable. Don’t forget this is a franchise still recovering from mismanagement. What does this all mean to you? This will give you an idea of TML management decisions and the psyche of TML fans. Like regaining senses after a coma, we regret lost time & missed opportunities; we are confused & disoriented about the current state of League affairs; and we thirst for respect & success. We’ve been basement-dwellers throughout the 80’s. It’s difficult not to be excited about being in the top-third these days!
So it has begun. Although I have a very busy schedule, I can no longer stand the constant abuse directed at my city, my team, and my people. Toronto has suffered enough. Having observed HTR for a year, I feel I am knowledgeable enough to take a stand on this board and challenge all comers. I will even challenge Leaf fans who are abusing the current management team. I do agree that among us Leafs Fans, we have those who are arrogant and/or ignorant. But the business of sports is far more intricate than an average fan could comprehend, myself included. So this is my position. My subsequent post will focus on various off-season decisions made by various teams and non-decisions made by the Maple Leafs.
Those of you who knew nothing about the Maple Leafs, I hope you see us in a different light.