LEIWEKE RESPONDS TO BACKLASH: In an interview that covered a broad range of topics, former CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, and current CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiweke took a shot at clearing the air regarding comments he made last June that riled many Kings fans.
LOS ANGELES — On August 27, Tim Leiweke, the Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment in Toronto, owners of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs—the very same Tim Leiweke who used to be the Chief Executive Officer of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) the giant entertainment and real estate conglomerate that owns the Los Angeles Kings, was back in Los Angeles for the wedding of his daughter, Francesca, and took the time to sit down with Los Angeles Magazine’s Giselle Fernandez, a former national reporter for CBS News and NBC News, discussing a rather broad range of topics.
In the series, “Big Shots With Giselle Fernandez,” Leiweke spoke for the first time about his departure from AEG, stressing that, as announced back in March, the decision for him to leave was “mutual.”
“We tried to sell the company,” Leiweke told Fernandez. “I knew the minute we got in that process if that didn’t end well then I’d want to move on, and that’s what happened.”
“We [Leiweke and AEG] wish each other well,” Leiweke added. “I cheer them on. They’re my second favorite hockey team, my second favorite basketball team, and my second favorite soccer team. We do concerts in our building together, so we’ll continue to have a relationship, and there will be no animosity, and we move on. Life’s too short for that.”
Contrary to Leiweke’s statements during this interview, there are reports that refute his claim that the decision was mutual, the most notable coming from Sports Business Daily and Forbes.
Also in the interview with Fernandez, Leiweke responded to the heavy backlash from Kings fans regarding his June 4, 2013 criticisms of Los Angeles as a hockey town, and of Kings fans (see the Toronto Maple Leafs-produced video interview below).
“When the Maple Leafs made the playoffs, one-third of the entire country watched the games,” said Leiweke. “It is not a sport there. It is a culture there. It’s part of their lifestyle, and it’s unique.”
“I hope the Kings can get to that point here, but I will tell you it’s unique there,” added Leiweke.
Indeed, many Kings fans were offended by Leiweke’s comments during that interview last June, and he tried to mend fences in his comments to Fernandez.
“I want to set the record straight,” Leiweke stressed. “There was a little bit of rumbling with Kings fans, that I had said some things that were disrespectful. [That] couldn’t be further from the truth. I am the biggest fan the Kings have, outside of cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is my team. I’m passionate about them, and will fight aggressively to help them win the Stanley Cup. But I think the world of [the Kings]. These kids, these players are friends, and I saw them grow up. I still consider them friends.”
“I will always be passionate about [Los Angeles],” Leiweke added. “I will always be passionate about these teams, the Lakers, the Kings, and the Galaxy.”
Based on her record as a journalist, especially during her tenure as a national reporter with CBS News and NBC News, Fernandez should be considered to be credible. However, Los Angeles Magazine is definitely not known for publishing hard news, raising questions about why Leiweke chose to speak to them, as opposed to other news organizations in Los Angeles with far stronger reputations for their reporting.
Big Shots With Giselle Fernandez: Tim Leiweke Interview
Tim Leiweke Interviewed For Toronto Maple Leafs Video
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This guy flip flops worse than a politician running for office. If his new loyalties are to the Leafs, fine. But he’s going back and forth saying contradictory things to different people and volunteering information nobody asked for. Stick to one thing and mean it
Did he say something offensive? He was honest. It is a culture thing in Toronto,although Toronto only has hockey and basketball. Give the guy a break, he diden’t sugar coat it.
I thought Kings fans who were upset with Leiweke after the comments he made didn’t stop to think that his job is to say what Leafs fans want to hear.
Besides that, he’s right about hockey being akin to a religion in Canada and Toronto, in particular. It’ll never be that way anywhere in the U.S., including Los Angeles.
Regarding him saying that Los Angeles isn’t a hockey town in those original comments, I’m guessing he meant that in comparison to Toronto that L.A. isn’t a hockey town, which is true.
Nevertheless, the Los Angeles area is a hockey town. It’s just that, unlike other cities where the population is near the arena, Kings fans are spread over the urban sprawl that is the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and out over several counties.