Change continues to be the operative word for the leadership positions among the Seattle Seahawks franchise, as another move occurred at the top of the food chain with Vulcan Sports & Entertainment CEO Tod Leiweke stepping down to join the Tampa Bay Lightning as CEO and part owner.
The ability for Leiweke to be a part-owner with the Lightning is viewed as the deal clincher in Tampa Bay, who relentlessly pursued Leiweke’s services. There’s no feeling that Leiweke was forced out from the people that I’ve talked to. Leiweke will also assist in the hiring effort of his predecessor, another sign he’s leaving the Seahawks with a good relationship with owner Paul Allen still in place.
Leiweke was viewed as owner Paul Allen’s right-hand man in his dealings with the Seahawks, the Seattle Sounders and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. Hopefully we get a chance to talk to Leiweke this afternoon about his departure, but he was viewed a shrewd businessman and marketing guru in terms of his dealings with sports teams.
And Leiweke had been viewed as a calming influence in a volatile year for the Seahawks, with Seattle firing president and general manager Tim Ruskell and head coach Jim Mora within a month of each other. Leiweke led the process in hiring head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, with Carroll winning the coin flip over personnel matters.
The Trail Blazers also had some turmoil of their own, with the announcement of general manager Kevin Pritchard’s firing at the end of this year’s draft. The Blazers hired former Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma City Thunder cap specialist Rich Cho to replace Pritchard.
Whomever the Seahawks hire will be one of the new leadership voices of Vulcan Sports moving forward. Leiweke appears to have solidified the leadership of the Seahawks with the hiring of Carroll and Schneider. But the new CEO will be in charge of both of those guys along with the direction of the business side of the franchise, so it’s an important position.
Leiweke for the most part worked in the background during the Mike Holmgren and Tim Ruskell era, but was thrust into the spotlight during Ruskell’s firing in December. He went to bat for Holmgren and Mora but ultimately failed in both attempts.
His position will serve as one of the faces of the Seahawks’ franchise around the league, so Seattle should look for a somewhat personable figure who can work as a taskmaster in managing Allen’s sports franchises.
Leiweke also was the person Carroll answered to, so it will be interesting to see if that chain of command changes when a new person is hired.