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Tod Leiweke to lead Tampa Bay Lightning as Chief Executive Officer

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Damian Cristordero reports Tod Leiweke is set to be named as Chief Executive Officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning / Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC.

[Note by John Fontana, 07/26/10 1:41 PM EDT ] This has been confirmed in Seattle.

[Note by John Fontana, 07/26/10 1:54 PM EDT ] An official team announcement of the move has hit the web.  It's interesting to note that in addition to being named CEO of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment:

Leiweke will also become an Alternate Governor to the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors for the Lightning and, subject to approval by the NHL, will acquire an ownership stake in Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment.

It's been months since anything has come to light, discussion wise, regarding owner Jeffrey Vinik's CEO search. Fans have generally been calmed as Steve Yzerman has run hockey operations and impressed people repeatedly with his moves.

Leiweke originally denied interest in the Lightning job, saying:

"I know a little bit about what they're doing, and something good is going to emerge there," Leiweke said. "It's a fantastic opportunity for the right person."

...

"I'm happy doing what I'm doing," Leiweke said.

But after that statement, there was nothing but silence from Leiweke himself. Silence that continued to reign after TSN reported Leiweke was candidate-one for the CEO spot in Tampa. I say silence from Leiweke himself, because the Seattle Seahawks issued a denial regarding the report. That and the blogosphere / mainstream media took that denial as Leiweke's words.

Read over this recap for the entire early part of the Leiweke hunt.

Yet silence was a parameter for talks about any job with the Lightning. This was a truth about the GM role, and it's become abundantly clear that was a parameter for the CEO job search as well. Leiweke not saying anything was a sign he was talking...

Cassie figured there would be perseverance  and not a 1-2-3 hiring:

I believe that Vinik already knows what he wants – or who he wants, really – and he’s willing to take the time to get it. He’s not interested in making this process into a reality show, so not a lot has been said about it.

Anyway, lets stop recapping and start talking constructively here about Tod Leiweke in a bit, this is a breaking story and we will have more after the jump...

Leiweke has been CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, a subsidary of Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc.  Vulcan Sports oversees the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA and Seattle Sounders FC from Major League Soccer.

This gives an inkling that Leiweke's role goes further than just operating the Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum.  In fact, fans and business people should realize that a CEO search does take this long if the position is simply an arena operations position.  It's clear to me that Jeff Vinik's intentions with Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC is much broader than we realize.

But don't expect it to come to light until the proper time.

Leiweke was formerly with the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild before joining Allen with the Seattle Seahawks.