Michael Friisdahl To Run Raptors Parent Company

9:30am: The hiring is official, the organization announced.

9:11am: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Raptors, is hiring Air Canada executive Michael Friisdahl as the new president and CEO, a source told Rick Westhead of TSN. He’ll take over for current MLSE chief Tim Leiweke in December, tweets Michael Grange of SportsNet. Leiweke announced more than a year ago that he was stepping down in June, but he’s stayed on as MLSE struggled to find a replacement.

Friisdahl’s background is chiefly in the travel industry, so his lack of sports industry experience is likely a sign that GM Masai Ujiri will be able to run the Raptors without much interference, posits Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Leiweke, by contrast, came to the organization having already served as president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the National Hockey League’s Kings and part of the Lakers.

John Cassaday, who is the top executive of Corus Entertainment in Toronto, was the front-runner for the MLSE job and the sides tentatively reached an agreement, but they got a late start on discussing financial terms and ultimately couldn’t close a deal, Westhead writes.

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