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In February of 2006 Richard Peddie had just hired Bryan Colangelo to run the Raptors and was feeling pretty good about himself for what seemed to be an absolute coup.

"I've probably hired my last general manager," he said; the first time he suggested to me to that his tenure running MLSE was closer to the end than the beginning.

He was wrong about the GM thing; as he went on to hire Cliff Fletcher and then Brian Burke.

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But you knew right then than Peddie was never going to be fired.

When FAN 590 host Greg Brady tweeted that Peddie was going to be replaced, my first reaction was that it was the wrong word: He'll be replaced, but it will be at a time close to his choosing, and it will be a graceful exit; a distinction confirmed yesterday by a source close to the MLSE board who wanted to remain anonymous.

Peddie's moment will come on a quiet day in late spring; removed enough from the debacle that it looks like the Leafs and Raptors are headed for, but not too close to next season that the new guy will have all the runway he needs for 2011-12.

A quick scroll through the comments from our story on suggests no one will be sad to see Peddie go.

The exception should be the company's majority owners, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the team's largest individual shareholder, MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum.

And not just because Peddie has made them each gobs of money running what - from the business side - is a world-class operation.

But because Peddie has taken bullet after bullet for these guys - some self-inflicted, for sure - in a way they'll likely only appreciate fully when he's gone.

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When Dave Feschuk and I co-wrote LeafsAbomination no one from the Teachers Pension Plan wanted to be interviewed. Tanenbaum didn't want to be interviewed. But Peddie was willing to sit for an hour and defend his record.

Yesterday I contacted the OTPP hoping someone might want to comment on a report one of their most senior employees was being 'replaced.'

Still waiting to hear back.

Tanenbaum has yet to reply.

As for as I can tell it was silence all the way around.

How'd you like to work for guys like that? You're twisting in the wind and they just kind of …watch.

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For all the heat Peddie has taken - deservedly many times to be sure - at least he's stood up to take it.

The three Teaches representatives on the MLSE board - Robert Bertram, Glen Silvestri and Ashvin Malkani (heard of them? Exactly) - have the best jobs in sports: They get all the perks of ownership without risk either to their bank accounts or their reputations; but those seats on the floor for the Raptors or behind the Leafs bench are pretty sweet.

Tanenbaum has grown quieter as his teams have got worse.

With ownership comes accountability and Richard Peddie has been paid very well by the owners of MLSE to spare them from as much as possible.

Soon enough he'll be out, comfortably retired on Lake Erie. And maybe then the focus of some of the most loyal fans in sport will shift to where the real problems lie.

The sad fact, they may come to realize, is that Richard Peddie -- the man they love to hate -- was not the problem at MLSE.

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