Maple Leaf Sports Hires Air Canada Executive Friisdahl as CEO

Friday, Oct 30, 2015

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors sports teams, hired Michael Friisdahl to replace outgoing Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke.

Friisdahl, an Air Canada executive, takes over in December as president and CEO, according to a statement Thursday. Maple Leaf Sports is co-owned by BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and investor Larry Tanenbaum.

Friisdahl led a unit of Air Canada that focused on vacation and tour operations and the airline’s Rouge brand. He has worked in the travel and airline industry since the 1980s, MLSE said in the statement.

Leiweke joined MLSE in June 2013 after 13 years with Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings. He’d been on the job less than two months when he said in an interview with Bloomberg that he’d already plotted a parade route for when the Maple Leafs win the National Hockey League championship, a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since 1967.

The Leafs still haven’t won, but under Leiweke the Raptors National Basketball Association team has had a rebirth, making two appearances in the playoffs. He’s also led an expansion of the Toronto FC Major League Soccer team’s stadium. Leiweke said in August 2014 he wanted to run his own business and would leave as soon as MLSE found a replacement.

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