On Peter Luukko’s Curious Resignation

Kyle Scott —  December 3, 2013 — 20 Comments
Luukko on Thursday with David Boreanaz

Luukko on Thursday with David Boreanaz

Yesterday, Comcast-Spectacor, the parent company that owns the Flyers, announced the abrupt and strange resignation of Peter Luukko, the company’s President and COO. In his role, Luukko oversaw not only the Flyers, on which he says he only spent about 20% of his time, but also Global Spectrum (operators of many arenas and public facilities), Ovations (arena food and services), Front Row (in-arena marketing), Paciolan (ticketing), New Era Tickets (ticketing), and Flyers Skate Zones and Charities. His duties went well beyond the Orange and Black.

Speaking to Tim Panaccio (who was eager to trumpet the message from his best source), Luukko cited the following reasons for his resignation:

Peter Luukko has a pretty good idea of what he is going to do Tuesday morning when he awakes in his house in West Chester.

“I’m going to clean out my garage,” said the 54-year-old who resigned Monday as president of Comcast-Spectacor.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to cash out on the business at a good time,” Luukko said. “It gives me an opportunity at 54 to be comfortable and build new opportunities and make another run.”

Luukko said, contrary to rumors, he has “nothing” in line for the future.

“That’s the good thing because I need to really clear my head and think about that next decision on what is the next, good thing to do,” he said. “I love operating and rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. I’m looking forward to a single focus at some point.”

Ed Snider was, apparently, shocked (!) to learn that Luukko, who had been working for him since 1985, decided to resign out of the blue.

From Philly.com:

“We’ve had better days,” Snider, the club’s chairman, said in a telephone interview after Luukko’s stunning decision. “It came out of the blue, but I guess he gave it 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.”

And from the Delco Times:

The surprise was still evident in Ed Snider’s voice, although several hours had passed Monday since the man he had groomed to run his diversified and very successful sports and entertainment company, Peter Luukko, had called a sudden meeting to tell him he was walking away from it all.

“It’s funny timing,” Snider said about Luukko’s resignation as chief operating officer and president of Comcast-Spectacor. “By some token, I guess Peter was thinking it over a lot, and he thought this is the right time.”

Anyone else find this all a bit… odd?

According to his still publicly available bio, Luukko started with Snider’s SMG (Spectacor Management) in 1985, quickly becoming an executive for the Western Region, where he ran the Los Angeles Coliseum. In 1993, he left to become president of the Spectrum, and then quickly became responsible for managing all of Comcast-Spectacor’s interests.

In following the conversation and reaction on Twitter yesterday, it became apparent that many Flyers fans assumed that if there were reasons beyond what was made public, Luukko was “let go” due to the Flyers’ recent struggles. But I highly doubt that. Luukko’s value to Snider and Comcast-Spectacor goes well beyond the Flyers’ on-ice success. He has been responsible for substantial growth of the company, and there’s almost no way he was made a fall guy for a couple of years of hockey struggles.

So why, then, the abrupt resignation? Snider himself admitted that Luukko was his likely successor. After all, Luukko has been his right-hand man for decades. He is responsible for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in business. Luukko claims it’s because he wants to “cash out” (Luukko owns a 5% stake in several of the aforementioned Comcast-Spectacor subsidiaries) and explore other opportunities. But people like Luukko don’t just quit a job without a plan. And they certainly don’t walk into Ed Snider’s office and make the surprise announcement that they’re resigning without any notice whatsoever. I mean, there was no succession plan, no heir apparent. Nothing. Luukko, supposedly, just left yesterday. You don’t do that in an entry-level job making $40k a year, let alone in an executive position with a company that you basically built.

Luukko was seemingly still very involved in the business right up until Sunday. He spoke at length to Panaccio (of course he did) about Rogers Communications’ recent mega-deal to broadcast games in Canada. He was very active in the Flyers’ new junior hockey team, and even appeared on the opening night broadcast to promote a game at the Wells Fargo Center. And he was front and center at the press conference when Peter Laviolette was fired:

Voila_Capture106

People who are thinking of checking out aren’t usually so visible in their final months.

Luukko isn’t an outsider, some exec called in to run a company for a few years. He’s not an insignificant employee. He has been with Snider since before many of you were born. He lives in West Chester. His kids went to school here. HIS SON WAS DRAFTED BY THE FLYERS, perhaps as a courtesy. And we’re supposed believe that he just walked into Snider’s office yesterday and resigned, at age 54? Nah.

It’s been said that parent Comcast is trying to button up the culture at Comcast-Spectacor, a subsidiary of the mega-conglomerate. And Luukko’s departure comes as Snider and Comcast-Spectacor may have been seeking subsidies from Comcast. Now, two former executives from Comcast’s cable division, Dave Scott and Gary Rostick, will join Comcast-Spectacor: Rostick as CFO, and Scott as acting president– Luukko’s replacement.

Snider told John Clark that he just met Scott, who will ostensibly run his company (Comcast has a majority share, but Snider owns a 25% stake in Comcast-Spectacor), yesterdaySomething tells me Scott wasn’t Snider’s choice. It’s like Senator Lockhart being tapped to replace Saul as the director of the CIA in Homeland. Things are changing, whether Carrie likes it or not.

Whether the apparent Comcast-ization of Comcast-Spectacor has anything to do with Luukko leaving is unclear. But, it’s doubtful that Luukko just resigned to cash in his chips and spend time with his family.

I see three possibilities:

1) Luukko most certainly has something planned, perhaps immediately. Think Joe Banner leaving the Eagles to run the Browns. [I'm just speculating here, but Luukko, who is a "hockey guy," seemed awfully interested in the Rogers broadcasting deal in Canada.]

2) He was let go for reasons having nothing to do with hockey and was given a soft landing by longtime friend and boss Snider.

3) Some sort of shit was or is about to hit the fan and Luukko had no choice but to get out.

Whatever the case, I would guess that it’s extremely likely that there’s more to the story here.

But, of course, that likelihood won’t stop unqualified Flyers beat writers from spewing the party line and focusing on the hockey-centric narrative.

We already told you about Panaccio’s gentle article, which was filled with sunshiny quotes from Luukko. And now, here’s Rob Parent’s, in the Delco Times. He speculates that Paul Holmgren or Bob Clarke could be elevated to club president (just of the Flyers, not Comcast-Spectacor):

If that were to change, an internal shuffle could see Holmgren move up and Hextall, the old Flyers goalie who won a Cup as an assistant GM in Los Angeles, move into a GM’s chair. Then there might be retro options. Former general manager Bob Clarke, 64, who was Holmgren’s longtime front office boss, is an executive vice-president with the club but hasn’t been very active in club affairs the past few years.

Another potential link to the Flyers’ past is Pat Quinn, 70, who coached both Holmgren and Clarke with the Flyers. He is currently serving as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but has a long track record of coaching and front office management with the Flyers, Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.

Meanwhile, one of the most powerful and recognizable business execs in Philly just resigned from his job, and everyone is supposed to believe that it’s because he wanted to go watch his kids play hockey. Right.

Kyle Scott

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20 responses to On Peter Luukko’s Curious Resignation

  1. At least you will write about this topic… There is no doubt in my mind that there is more to this story.

  2. Mike Miss hates Riley Cooper December 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Something is fishy

  3. For everyone who pisses and moans about the Flyers culture, this is good news. You will soon be complaining that the Flyers just don’t spend money like they used to.

  4. Father Christmas December 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    He waited for Snider to step down finally. Snider didn’t/wouldn’t, and now Comcast is eyeing up Flyers exec changes that won’t include either of them, so he left preemptively?

  5. i didnt know chris wheeler liked hockey

  6. I’m confused, what does this story have to do with one of the four awesome shirts now available on the CB Store™? What would Geezus say about this story, amirite?

    (By the way Kyle, keep wasting your time banning usernames and IP addresses from commenting, it’s working well isn’t it? It’s so hard to change your IP nowadays!)

  7. Please say he left because he didn’t have the heart to fire Paul Holmgren himself……. Pllllease, oh lordy lord above in the heavens….

  8. really not sure how fishy this is…i wouldn’t be surprised if there was something else going on, but realistically the guy probably got a massive chunk of his equity, or stock or whatever, back after the 25 year mark and decided to cash out.

  9. You still don’t get what this guy’s role was with the company. How the fuck is he a “hockey Guy”? What exactly are his “hockey guy” qualifications? He watched his kids games? Coatesy says ge’s a rink rat? He’s Snider’s money man always was, always had been. This guy runs arenas. Who do you know that just bought an arena and may need a money man to run it?

    • In quotes, because he’s a very big hockey fan, with kids who play high-level hockey, and he, himself, plays hockey in the mornings at the Wells Fargo Center. He’s a big hockey junkie was what I was getting at.

      • I agree with you and think there’s more to it, as in, he has been approached for a role with a different organization and i would not be at all surprised if he lands a job with Joshua Harris. You take a different role at his age but you don’t take a pay cut. You get used to a lifestyle level.

  10. I’m not discounting the fact that there MAY be more to this story, but I wouldn’t say it is a definite.

    If I was 54 and rich as fuck, I may have a Thanksgiving off and say “you know what? Having off is nice. Not having to be somewhere Monday-Friday is nice. I don’t need to work anymore, and if I want to, I can just do 10-20 hours a week consulting or running a charity or whatever my passion may be. I’ve set myself up quite nicely so that I never have to worry about money again, so I’m just gonna go ahead and get out.”

    I could absolutely see that being the case.

    Again, it might not be. But I can’t believe that’s unfathomable.

  11. I heard from two people who know Lukko well from down the shore (Avalon is where some of the flyers execs & players reside in the summer) that there isn’t going to be any “shit about to hit the fan” or scandal. In fact what happened was Lukko inquired about a succession plan and was told that the decision would be Comcast’s not Snider’s. This theory makes even more sense if you listen to Snider’s interview with John Clarke. Clarke asks him point blank wasn’t lukko going to be your successor? Snider’s response “in my mind yes but that’s not my decision that’s up to Comcast.”
    Lukko then decided to cash out his options rather then devote more time to a company he helped build with some uncertainty about his own future. Apparently he had already been receiving calls gauging his interest in some endeavors one of which was believed to be with Josh Harris’s group (as it continues to expand) another reportedly in the media industry (perhaps the Rogers deal mentioned above). I guess only time will tell and while there is more to the story it doesn’t appear to be anything in a negative light.

    • I could believe that, except for a few things:

      1) The CFO is also gone, and Snider won’t talk about why

      2) It’s the middle of the season. Why not wait until April for this?

      3) Luukko’s kid is a Flyers draft pick

      4) Luukko has been there for 25 years, and this issue is just coming to a head?

  12. Wanna take bets that Under Ed and Peter were involved in some fucked up shit that will arise soon….

  13. Wait a minute… December 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Why is it so hard to believe that a guy who has worked his ass off for 28 straight years just wants some time off? We find a guy who exhibits normal, middle America values (desires to spend time with his family rather than work 80 hours a week just to put a few more bills on the top of his mountain of cash), and we assume “something fishy” is going on just because it doesn’t fit into the “successful businessman” narrative (to borrow Kyle’s favorite word). Except that he has already finished that story. The reports said he “cashed out his equity in the company” (read: left with a fuck-ton of money).

    I know you are trying to get out in front of the crowd so you can say “I told you so” IF something comes out of this (without having to do any real journalistic heavy lifting to, you know, go find the truth yourself). Just please do us all a favor and write this down so you can admit it IF your wild, unsubstantiated rumor-mongering turns out to be false. That’s all we have right now: IFs.

  14. Peter Luukko resign? Wow! Why didn’t he resign long time ago? My best friend and I’re very disappointed in Peter Luukko for betraying us about the Philadelphia Phantoms because he’s not trying hard enough to keep them here in Philadelphia. The team ends up in Glen Fall, N.Y. which’s too far for us to root for our faorite team. Thi s so-called town hall meeting he had with us is a total waste of time with black drape hanging all around us ( It’s like a funeral). Peter, you really suck in fan relation when it come to tell the truth. What a lying coward!

  15. 1. Perhaps Comcast made the decision because they were tired of dumping money into Comcast-Spectacor. The initial investment plus years of loans, some of which were converted to equity, the balance having no chance of ever being repaid.
    Funny how both people from Comcast, Luukko’s replacement and the new CFO have financial backgrounds. Don’t be surprised to see Comcast sell off their ownership soon.
    2. No one resigns and leaves the same day. I’ll venture to say that Comcast called that meeting and let him go….

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