With Toronto FC in a full-on tailspin that has them four points out of the playoff race, Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment president Tim Leiweke isn’t pleased with the team’s attitude.
“The only two guys in our locker-room that are looking around and going ‘we ain’t going down unless we go down fighting’ are Michael Bradley and [new manager] Greg Vanney,” Leiweke told Ryerson MBA students last Thursday during a talk.
But the man Leiweke claimed is leading the meek charge doesn’t agree that his teammates aren’t up for the fight.
“On the inside of that locker-room, there’s a group of guys who are ready to give everything they have over the course of these last seven games,” Bradley said after practice today. “We’re not in a hole and the situation is not nearly as doom and gloom as so many people try to make it out to be.
“I think you saw on Saturday night [in Toronto’s 1-1 tie with Chicago] that whatever happens over these last seven games, we’re going down swinging.”
Reporters asked Bradley if Leiweke was making his comments with the intent of lighting a fire under the players. “You’d have to ask him that,” Bradley fired back.
Bradley did concede that Leiweke only made his comments because he cares, possibly more than anyone out there.
“Tim is very clever in the way that he goes about things. The words that he chooses, the moments when he chooses to say something,” Bradley said. “And so he has an incredible presence and an incredible aura when he speaks and when he walks into a room.We all know there’s no bigger supporter of this team than him. And so as president and CEO of this club, he certainly has the right to say anything and everything he wants.”
Leiweke will be stepping down by June 2015, this much we know, but much of the weight of this potential collapse rests on his shoulders, and he has much to lose should the team not make the playoffs.