We need to start running governments like businesses. Same goes for hockey franchises where salaries have risen exponentially over the last decade. Hopefully Rogers and Bell model the Leafs after the Oakland A's of Brad Pitt fame. Play some Moneyball.
While Rogers and Bell certainly care about EBITDA, they want the Leafs to win. Because, if the Leafs win and make the playoffs, they make loads of money.
Last season during the NHL playoff run, I wrote an article about one of my favorite stocks,
Madison Square Garden
Sell Madison Square Garden If the Rangers Lose?
, I pointed out that MSG nets $1 million in income for every playoff game it hosts.
MSG owns the New York Rangers. It owns the regional network that carries the games. It owns the arena the Rangers play in. All of the above, plus content delivery, for the Rogers/Bell consortium. That iPhone you take with you to the game, they probably own the three-year (yes, three-year, not two) contract you signed to make yourself feel like you were getting a deal.
They own everything. Unlike the former owners of MLSE -- a teachers' pension fund -- Rogers and Bell will not be happy without postseason hockey in Toronto. They want it badly. It will drive revenue. It will drive profit. It's the crown jewel, the main reason why they did the MLSE deal in the first place.
To recognize the synergies possible when you own the team, the venue and practically the entire sports and entertainment media landscape in a country that's crazy about hockey.
Cox also scored the
with Burke after his dismissal. He'll stay on with the Leafs as a senior consultant.
Immediately after receiving the news he was out, Burke picked his 7- and 8-year-old daughters up from school. On his first full day without the President/GM gig, he got up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise, hit
twice, dealt with a smashed car window (he's not sure if a disgruntled fan did the damage) and went to a matinee of
, by himself.
Burke says he's "stunned" by the firing:
I was floored, and I still am stunned. I've never been fired before . . . I think I can help. I've been at this for a while. I have my name on the Stanley Cup. I'll do whatever I can . . . I wish Dave (Nonis) and the Toronto Maple Leafs all the success in the world. I'll do my best to help them win.
For the record, I still love all three stocks -- BCE, RCI and MSG -- despite considerable runs for the latter two.
Some regulatory issues, unrelated to MLSE, have held Bell back a bit, but it's as strong of a long-term play as RCI. Investors have to yet to recognize the upside potential in this MLSE deal.
MSG is a nice lower-level U.S. case study to help illustrate what Rogers and Bell have going for them in Canada. I like MSG this year no matter what happens, but I expect a big media company,
quite possibly News Corp (
), to at least try to take them out.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.