The photo above shows the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in happier financial times. That isn’t the case currently, and it might not be the case for the next while – let’s hope it’s short term.
Those who follow hockey tend to think of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team as rolling in money. In fact, compared to other NHL franchises, they might be doing way better. That said, the entire organization is struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MSLE) Announces Cutbacks
Today, it was announced that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MSLE) would be cutting the salaries of up to one-quarter of its full-time staff. It would also continue to extend salary reductions for senior management and executives to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19 starting into the New Year.
The point is that every big entertainment company is struggling. And the Maple Leafs organization, for all of the money they seem to have, are struggling just like everybody else. The Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment company owns three Toronto professional sports teams (including the NHL’s Maple Leafs, the NBA’s Raptors, and the CFL’s Argonauts). The company also owns and operates the venues in which these sports are played.
The MLSE Will Also Move 25% of Staff to Temporary Inactive Status
The MLSE says up to 25 percent of full-time staff will be moved to temporary inactive status. As well, it will extend management and executive salary reductions that will take effect on Jan. 1. This move seems to take the place of letting people go and paying them no salary.
Instead, those employees who are impacted will remain on MLSE payroll; however, it will be at a reduced salary. The employees will retain their benefits and pension and be able to access all their corporate communication tools as a way to help them remain current on MLSE’s operations.
It’s obviously a tough decision, but it might not be forever. In fact, the MLSE notes that the length of time employees would remain inactive will be based on the ability of MLSE to return to its normal business operations.
The Move Shows the Desperate State of Sports – Including Hockey – in Canada
Life everywhere in the world has been impacted by the pandemic. In Canada, somehow, you feel as if we’re a little bit more fortunate than our neighbor to the due South; however, perhaps this is a wake-up call for all of us that life is not normal and it might not be normal for quite a while.
NHL hockey, but really all professional sports, has been disrupted by the pandemic. The NHL was able to complete its 2019-20 season by creating and utilizing bubbles that sequestered and protected NHL players and staff in two cities in Canada – Toronto and Edmonton.
Fortunately, the NHL was lucky. However, other sports have been less fortunate. If you’re a fan of NFL football or NCAA sports, you’ll be familiar with the difficulties these professional and collegiate teams are having continuing a season. They’re struggling through it, but not prospering by any means.
And, when players are continually engaged in movement between cities, that has resulted in what seems to be – by NHL hockey standards – a host of positive COVID-19 tests that have postponed games and created a difficult schedule.
NHL hockey games were played in empty arenas, football games have been cancelled altogether, and currently NBA games are being scheduled to be played in Florida.
The Toughest Time the MLSE Has Ever Had
MLSE CEO Michael Friisdahl noted, “These past nine months have been the most challenging we have ever experienced, and while we had hoped to see signs of a return to more normal business operations by now, the effects of the second wave of the pandemic have forced us to brace for further uncertainty.”
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