Luukko's resignation takes Flyers by surprise

Ed Snider (left) and Peter Luukko (right). (Matt Rourke/AP)
Ed Snider (left) and Peter Luukko (right). (Matt Rourke/AP)
Posted: December 04, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Ed Snider sounded like he was blindsided on Monday morning.

Peter Luukko had just informed him he was stepping down as president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.

"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."

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 telephone 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.

Luukko said he would take his time before deciding his next move.

"My biggest fear is jumping into something too quick," he said, adding that he wants the freedom to watch his sons play hockey.

Luukko has been with Comcast-Spectacor for 25 years. He estimated that 25 percent of his time was spent on duties connected to the Flyers. Luukko wore many hats, overseeing ticket and food services along with 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."

Flyers coach Craig Berube was 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, who had recently retired as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Comcast Cable, will serve as acting president of Comcast-Spectacor but not of 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, although Snider said he is "extremely valuable" in his current position.

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, who added 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's participation in two Winter Classics and for having the 2014 NHL draft scheduled in Philadelphia. He also was instrumental in arranging for college's Frozen Four to be held at the Wells Fargo Center this spring.

Luukko also was a valuable sounding board for general manager Paul Holmgren when personnel moves were made. Holmgren said Luukko "was always willing to do whatever was in the best interest of the Flyers, and that will be missed."

Last week, Forbes placed the Flyers' value at $500 million, ranking the franchise seventh in the 30-team NHL.

Comcast-Spectacor said that Luukko will cash out his equity in the company.

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