Tim Leiweke wants it all. As well he should.
The 2017 All-Star Game. The 2017 NHL Draft. The 2017 Winter Classic.
Those three events will be taking place in the season which the Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate their 100th season. Not only is the Leafs 100th anniversary, but it will be the NHL’s 100th anniversary as well. Obviously, these events will be very important to the league.
So, why should Gary Bettman and the NHL award 2017’s premier events to Toronto. This is what Leiweke had to say about it.
“It’s not a splash. I just think Toronto—it’s our 100th anniversary, and this is the greatest hockey city on Earth. I think we owe it to our fans. And we’re telling the league that they owe it to our fans… They don’t disagree, but we’ve got to go through a process to win it. I think we’ll win it. I think we’ll get there. But we got to go bid on it.”
Let’s look at this for a minute. The Leafs are the NHL’s most financially successful team, valued at or around $1 billion. Forget about the fact that the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, the Leafs still have the second most Stanley Cups in NHL history. As for the All-Star game, it will be the 70th anniversary of the very first NHL All-Star game, which took place in Toronto in 1947.
Add in the fact that the Montreal Canadiens got the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and 2009 NHL Draft for their 100-year anniversary and the Leafs should be a shoo-in for all three events. Also, the NHL should have the first Canadian-based Winter Classic take place in Toronto. All that needs to happen is the expansion of BMO Field.
Now matter where the Leafs find themselves in the NHL standings this season, the hope has to be that by 2017, they will be a perennial playoff contender and, dare I say it, maybe a Stanley Cup contender. That would make the 2016-17 season one to remember for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL.