It seemed unlikely that Bell and Rogers, once they announced their joint takeover of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment more than 18 months, would passively stand by and watch the giant corporation run itself.
But then, nobody was quite sure how, precisely, it would unfold, or whether the two companies would stymie one another with competing visions, particularly after their acquisition of 75 per cent of MLSE was formally approved in August.
Well, it may have taken a while for the unfolding to begin, but it has turned into a tidal wave.
On New Year's Day, 2013, a corporate snapshot would have seen Tom Anselmi as Chief Operating Officer without a suit above him, Brian Burke as president and general manager of the NHL Maple Leafs and Bryan Colangelo as president and general manager of the NBA Raptors.
In just over five months, all that has been swept away.
Oh, Anselmi's still there, and apparently Colangelo will be too once his peculiar firing/reassignment is officially made clear today. Theoretically, Burke also still works for the team in some capacity.
But the power structure and the personalities behind it all have changed.
Anselmi has been superseded by Tim Leiweke, the flashy new MLSE president and CEO. How that relationship will spill out over time is unclear.
Burke, of course, was dismissed on Jan. 9 before Leiweke was hired, bad luck for Burke possibly given that he and Leiweke hold each other in high regard. Dave Nonis, much more low-key in his approach, has been running the hockey department.
Colangelo, kicked upstairs, won't get a chance to show Leiweke what he can do with the basketball team, which seems neither fair nor unfair, really. Colangelo had a good kick at the can and came up well short.
With that, Leiweke will now move on to the hiring of a new basketball boss, and presumably sometime this week or next will turn his attention to the hockey operation.
It will be fascinating to see what he thinks of that.
Nonis has several years left on his contract, but that would be unlikely to hold up Leiweke if, like Colangelo, Nonis doesn't measure up in his eyes.
Leiweke wasn't brought in on big ticket amidst the sound of a brass band playing to work with people he didn't hire if he doesn't like the way they do their job.
Nonis is in a somewhat more envious position than was Colangelo. He just took over, and the team made the post-season in a campaign shortened to 48 games by a lockout only to lose Game 7 to the Boston Bruins in rather shocking style.
The Leafs are closer to the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup than they were a year ago.
But they are not close.
Nonis has a vision, and that's to develop a young team that grows together. He's unlikely to start trading young assets and futures for immediate help, although he might trade young assets and futures for other young assets. For example, he might trade Toronto's first round pick (No. 21) if some other team has a 19- or 20-year-old former first round pick they want to move.
Or maybe he might move 22-year-old Jake Gardiner, a marvel in the post-season, if he can get into the top 10 selections of this year's draft.
Nothing's off the table. People need to understand that, and given the way young teams develop, they also need to understand that while the Leafs very nearly upset the Bruins, there's a decent chance Toronto won't be as successful next season as it was this season.
Leiweke may or may not share that outlook. He and Nonis, you should know, barely know one another, and haven't spent recent weeks having beers on patios and trading war stories.
"It will be my GM, and I will have his back," said Leiweke today of the next Raptors GM, and presumably, he'll want to feel exactly the same way about the individual running the Leafs.
Leiweke made it clear when he was hired he was just going to stay out of the way until the Leafs completed their season, and he has, which apparently gave him oodles of time to handle the basketball situation just about as awkwardly as it could have been handled. This notion that Colangelo will stay on in some other capacity is just as absurd as was the announcement on the day Burke was fired that he would stay on as a consultant. The phrase "You're fired!" seems to never really mean that with MLSE.
But the basketball bloodletting is just about done and the Leaf season is over. There are already big decisions pending. Nonis is aware, given the fate of Colangelo, that nothing is guaranteed and he will have to sell Leiweke on his vision, one that MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum didn't enthusiastically embrace when he was looking for a new Leaf GM way back in 2008 and Nonis was interviewed.
Nonis hasn't changed his philosophy. But everything has changed at MLSE.