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MLSE not ready to name new CEO, Leiweke to continue on 'interim basis'

John E. Sokolowski / Reuters

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's hunt for a new chief executive officer appeared to be nearing a conclusion, but it's going to take a little longer.

The company that owns the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC of MLS will continue its search, and outgoing CEO Tim Leiweke has agreed to stay on until its completion, chairman Larry Tanenbaum announced in a statement Friday.

"We've made remarkable progress with Tim at the helm, and we are pleased that he has agreed to continue as CEO on an interim basis," Tanenbaum said.

Leiweke said he doesn't mind staying until his replacement is identified.

"I'm happy to be here as long as I'm needed while the organization works to find the right leader to carry the momentum forward," he said in the statement.

Leiweke expanded on the decision Friday in an interview with Sportsnet's Michael Grange.

"I'm excited to see through (Toronto FC)'s season, the new Leafs and where (general manager) Masai (Ujiri) is going to have the Raptors headed," he said.

"And as dumb as I can be sometimes, even I'm not dumb enough to leave Toronto in the summer time," he added.

MLSE reportedly planned to hold final discussions this week to approve former Corus Entertainment CEO John Cassaday as Leiweke's successor.

The sports conglomerate reportedly approached Cassaday about the position earlier this month.

The sticking point may have been Cassaday's salary. The negotiations were impacted by the Maple Leafs signing Mike Babcock to a reported $50-million contract last week, Sportsnet's John Shannon reported.

An announcement naming Cassaday as the new MLSE CEO was originally planned for Friday, according to the report.

Leiweke announced his intention to part ways with the company last August, pinning June 30 as his final day.

MLSE reportedly pursued NHL chief operating officer John Collins, who turned the organization down.

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