Sports

Soccer Canada finally scores with Kevin Blue

Opinion: Kevin Blue, ex-Golf Canada chief sport officer and U.S. college sports administrator, was announced as Canada Soccer CEO on Thursday.

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Bulls of the week

After more than 10 months without a full-time, appointed leader of day-to-day operations and the surprising January resignation of Alyson Walker on the day she was supposed to start, Canada Soccer finally has a true-blue sports executive as its new general secretary and CEO.

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Kevin Blue, former Golf Canada chief sport officer and U.S. college sports administrator, was announced as the new CEO on Thursday.

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The appointment of the Montreal-born, Stanford University alumnus should give some much-needed gravitas and focus to the operations of the national federation and it couldn’t come soon enough on several fronts.

Kudos to Canada Soccer for properly positioning Blue as CEO. While commonplace in soccer federations around the world, the use of general secretary was always a confusing anomaly in corporate Canada, and hence somewhat of a drag on the governance and management of Canada Soccer.

Now the work begins, just 27 months before Canada joins the U.S. and Mexico in hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, with Vancouver and Toronto staging a total of 13 matches in arguably the biggest growth opportunity that the sport has seen in Canada.

It was also a good week for Toronto-based OverActive Media Corp. (TSXV: OAM), the esports, video games and online events company that owns team franchises such as the Toronto Defiant of Overwatch, Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League, and the MAD Lions of the League of Legends EMEA Championship.

OverActive completed its acquisition of KOI of Barcelona and the Movistar Riders this week — esports team operations that are projected to add $10 million to $12 million to its annual revenues in 2024.

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Yet there was no bigger winner in the business of sport this week than the Regina family that put 16 sealed and unopened boxes of the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey collection up for auction in January.

After discovering the long-forgotten case in the basement of the now-deceased collector, the family last fall engaged Heritage Auctions to sell the 10,000 cards in the collection, including what could be up to 27 Wayne Gretzky rookie cards.

Originally purchased 45 years ago for about $130, the lot sold for US$3.72 million (US$3.1 million plus the buyer’s premium) on Sunday morning.

That’s a ‘wow!’

Bears of the week

A recent four-game losing streak has become a protracted period of poor play by the Vancouver Canucks, 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, including a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Outside of the comeback win in overtime against the Boston Bruins last week — their only win in their last seven games — there hasn’t been much to cheer about for the Canucks, with the exception of reports that the team is finally deep into contract talks with highlight-reel-star Elias Pettersson.

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The most bearish week of all — at least from a reputational point of view — was had by Clark Hunt, lead owner of the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.

He scored last among all 32 NFL owners in an NFL Players Association survey revolving around investment in facilities and quality of training-staff services provided to players.

At least Hunt acknowledged the need for the Chiefs to upgrade their facilities. With three Super Bowls in five years in facilities seen to be antiquated, imagine what the Chiefs could do with improvements on this front?

Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.

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