Luukko steps down, stuns Flyers
In a stunning move, Peter Luukko stepped down Monday as president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.
Luukko steps down, stuns Flyers
MINNEAPOLIS _ In a stunning move, Peter Luukko stepped down Monday as president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.
"We've had better days," club chairman Ed Snider said. "It came out of the blue, but I guess he gave a lot of thought over the holidays and decided to do other things with his life."
Added Snider: "We'll survive, but he's done a hell of a job and he will be hard to replace."
Snider talked with Luukko on Monday morning and learned of his decision.
Luukko, 54, said he was leaving on amicable terms.
"After 32 years of traveling and working six and seven days and nights a week, I want the opportunity to cash out _ and because of Ed, I can do that _ and then decide what's fun for me," Luukko said in a phone interview.
Luukko, who resides in West Chester, said he wants to spend more time with his family. He and his wife, Casey, have three children: Nick, 22, whom the Flyers selected in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and is now playing at the University of Vermont;; Dana, 20; and Max, 17, who plays hockey at a Connecticut prep school.
Snider said Luukko is "entrepreneurial and might want to start something of his own."
Luukko didn't deny that, but said he would take his time before deciding his next move.
"My biggest fear is jumping into something too quick," he said.
Luukko has been with Comcast-Spectacor for 25 years. He estimated 25 percent of his time was spent on duties connected to the Flyers . Luukko wore many hats, overseeing ticket and food services, and the management of 118 sports arenas, stadiums, convention centers and theaters.
"I'll miss hockey. I bleed orange and black," he said. "...It's just time to do something a little different."
The Flyers' players and head coach Craig Berube were caught off guard by the news.
"He's a great guy; he's been great to me," Berube said. "I don't know a lot about it. All I can say is, I consider him a friend."
Dave Scott will serve as acting president of Comcast-Spectacor, but not the Flyers, Snider said.
For now, the Flyers will not have a president.
"I'll play it by ear; it's such a shock that I haven't had time to think about it," Snider said.
Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' senior vice president of business operations, is a candidate to replace Luukko, though Snider noted he is "extremely valuable" in his current position.
Asked if Tilger could replace Luukko, Snider said, "I'm not sure. All the stuff Shawn does takes a lot of time."
Snider said Luukko was a mentor of sorts to Tilger.
Many had assumed that when Snider decided to retire, Luukko would move into his spot.
Even Snider felt that way.
"We never talked about it....but I felt when I stepped down, he would be the logical guy," said Snider, adding that Luukko's passion and energy were "legendary" in the industry. "But it would have been up to Comcast."
As president of the Flyers, Luukko was a driving force behind the team participating in two Winter Classics and for having the 2014 NHL draft and college's forthcoming Frozen Four scheduled for Philadelphia. He was also a valuable sounding board for GM Paul Holmgren when personnel moves were made.
Forbes last week said the Flyers' value was at $500 million, placing the franchise seventh in the 30-team NHL.
Luukko and Snider rank 43d on Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal's list of the Top 50 Most Influential Leaders in Sports Business.
Comcast-Spectacor said Luukko will cash out his equity in Comcast-Spectacor.
Breakaways. Center Vinny Lecavalier will miss Monday's game in Minnesota because of back spasms. Michael Raffl will move to the second line, and Jay Rosehill will play on the fourth line. Brayden Schenn will move from wing to center on the No. 2 line......Ray Emery (3-4, 2.60 GAA, .910 save percentage) will oppose the Wild's Josh Harding (13-4-3, 1.52, .936). Emery has a 4-0-1 career record against the Wild.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.