Since becoming the majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes in January 2018, Tom Dundon is one of the least conventional owners of the NHL. Look no further than the team's choreographed victory celebrations, which range from players competing in "duck, duck, goose" to human bowling.
On Tuesday, Dundon continued on an unusual path: he invested $ 250 million to become president of the Alliance of American Football, the new eight-team spring professional league that debuted with good ratings and critics . The NHL told ESPN that Dundon did not need his permission to take on this role and did not fear that the financial commitment would have a negative impact on hurricanes.
The ESPN on Ice podcast interviewed Dundon on Tuesday to discuss the FAA, whether he was considering a merger or buyout of the NFL, as well as the state of the Hurricanes and recent comments from Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry on the celebrations of the team's victory. a lot of jerks. "
ESPN: What motivated you to engage in the Alliance of American Football?
Tom Dundon: I had seen the agreement when they conceptualized the league. It was not something I would do, because there were so many questions about the quality of football and everything that came up when you try to start something new. Once it was broadcast on TV, that he looked awesome, that I had good ratings, I talked to people who l & # 39; supported. At the same time, thanks to mutual knowledge, I realized that they needed someone like me to intervene. Everything is set up Wednesday and Thursday of last week. I would like it to be more thoughtful than that, but it was as simple as that.
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ESPN: There were reports of payroll problems with the league in week 1. Does your investment directly cover these costs? How does it work, to the extent that money is spent?
Dundon: It's a little careless to say that on the payroll side. But I provide capital and they have bills to pay. It may not be good to correlate directly with each other, but I made my investment on Thursday and people are paid on Friday. There were other people with whom the league spoke and they had other commitments from investors. I can not exactly say what would have happened if I did not have [invested]but i know that i invested on thursday.
ESPN: This league has the support of CBS and Charlie Ebersol. He made his debut with general favorable reactions, but had financial problems from the beginning. What makes AAF a solid investment?
Dundon: When startups collect capital, it's like that. You raise capital, reach certain milestones, you raise more capital. I would say separate capital involved and determine if people were able to finance it, and how successful were football performance and scores … they have good players and coaches and good technology. It looked good on TV. In fact, I am glad that an opportunity was created for whatever reason, depending on the structure of their capital.
ESPN: Football was good. It's not like when the XFL debuted and that people immediately began to ransack its product. People are delighted that there is a spring league.
Dundon: And it's growing. It's growing.
ESPN: But let's remember other football startups: You think about the USFL, and one of the goals of some homeowners was to end up being absorbed into the NFL. When you get involved in the FAA, do you consider this a final scenario for the league? What can the NFL decide to embark on in spring football and take the AAF as the feeder league?
Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan talk to Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon about his recent investment in AAF (15:20). In addition, Dundon responds to recent criticism of hockey legend Don Cherry about the "storm storm". Martin Bachmayer, CEO of Jogmo, explains how his company is changing the way the NHL collects data (37:24). Listening »
Dundon: It was not in everything that went through my mind. For some reason, people love American football. They watch this. There are enough good players – about 1% of college players reach the NFL. Now, with our league, about 2% of players can play. It is only viable to be a support or development zone for players whose ultimate goal is to reach the NFL. This league only exists thanks to the success of the NFL. If the NFL wanted to do it, they had the means to do it. I do not think of them as those who buy a league. I think of them like this: "Let's just create a league, because it was a compelling thing to do."
ESPN: Thirteen months ago, you acquired the majority ownership of Carolina Hurricanes. You are now president of a professional football league. What are your other aspirations in the sport? Do you want to join the NFL someday?
Dundon: I have no idea. I did not even think about doing this until Wednesday morning. When the next thing comes up, I will examine it. But what I prefer is hurricanes. That's enough for me now.
ESPN: Speaking of hurricanes, there are people who are going to see the financial commitment in the FAA and who are worried about what it means for your investment in Carolina hurricanes. Does one correlate with the other?
Dundon: Zero. I would not do anything that could affect my ability to give us the best chance of winning with the Hurricanes. This has no impact whatsoever.
ESPN: Obviously you are someone who is very good at managing your time. We have to imagine that you can own the Hurricanes and the AAF at the same time, yes?
Dundon: Obviously, Roddy [coach Rod Brind’Amour] do not need my help. Don [Waddell, the general manager] do not need my help. I want to help where I can. Many of the things we needed to do to configure the Carolina Hurricanes for success were accomplished, largely to determine who is doing the work now. I care much less about Rob Brind's Love. I trust him so much. I trust him, I trust Don, and I have become familiar with many people within the organization and with the way things work. I spent a lot of time absorbing and understanding, to see what we could do to give them the best chance. We are in the learning curve quite far now. The time that I spent on it is much less long.
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ESPN: We are six days before the NHL trade deadline. The Hurricanes have the longest drought in the NHL playoffs. Where do you stand in the state of the team?
Dundon: They did very well. I'm happy for them because they all worked so hard. They deserve to be successful. I hope, like all our other fans, that it continues. But look: these players are not the reason for the last nine years. The last nine years have nothing to do with these people. All they can control, it is today. Everyone is doing their best to win the next match. If they do, they do it. if they do not do it, they do not do it. I'm going to be extremely frustrated if we lose a game, if we give up a goal or if we do not play in the playoffs, but it does not have much to do with what happened 10 or 10 years ago .
ESPN: What about the trading deadline?
Dundon: It's an interesting time, right? We are in a place where there can be many different ways. We will take all the information and make a good decision. We are fully committed to trying to win. Rod is really happy, he told me again. He appreciates the effort and the people in the locker room. At this moment, I can tell you that he does not need anything. He is happy with what he has. This is our starting point. We will have conversations next week and we will see where it goes. But I do not think we have a strong incentive to do anything outside of listening.
ESPN: You have a decision to make this summer on restricted free agent Sebastian Aho, the 21-year-old who leads your team with 67 points in 59 games. Has your life become easier or harder when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Auston Matthews, who is also expected to become a stand-alone officer, for this five-year extension?
Dundon: [Laughs] I do not really know. I know he's going to play for us. I do not know how we are going to do it, but we will do it. I think all the other teams will lead their teams as they will lead their teams. Whatever they do, they do it.
ESPN: Finally, we need to ask about Don Cherry. The commentator for the "Hockey Night in Canada" party again attacked your team's home victory celebrations, claiming that they were meant to embarrass opponents who were not even on the ice at this moment. When you see Cherry's clip calling your team "a bunch of jerks", what's going through your head?
Dundon: I really enjoyed it. I have listened to some of his things. I can not say I'm totally familiar, but I've seen enough where I know it's good for hockey and for entertaining and that he cares about him. J & # 39; appreciates. Nobody wants anyone to think badly of them. But I'm not mean and I know our players are not. … I do not think it's right that we do it and that anyone is hurt. And if I did, we would not do it. I think it was great. I'm glad he's talking about us. People do not always talk about hurricanes, so I hope that he will continue to talk about us. I will still listen to it. He can say what he means.
ESPN: You are now selling "Bunch of Jerks" shirts. You monetize this outrage. You are Kevin Bacon and he is the eldest of the city in "Footloose". It must be good for business.
Dundon: Whenever someone talks to you, I think that's fine. Listen, people criticized the Night of the Whalers we had, saying, "Oh, you're just doing it to sell t-shirts." But let 's be honest: you do not earn a lot of money selling t – shirts and clothes. This is not how I pay the bills. I'm glad it exists. I am happy with the opportunity. But it is not a question of selling t-shirts. It's pretty much the people who buy these t-shirts benefit from it. They can enjoy hurricanes and sports. We do not have to control what people say about us, we just have to react.