Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jim Balsillie: your money ain’t good enough

The commissioner of the NHL and that league’s board of governors have spoken: Jim Balsillie’s money isn’t good enough for them. One wonders, frankly, whether any Canadian’s money is good enough, if that Canadian intends to operate his/her team in Canada.

On Wednesday, the NHL’s board of governors unanimously rejected Mr. Balsillie’s ownership bid for the Phoenix Coyotes after meeting with bidders in Chicago. Instead, the board approved the competing bid of Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, whose bid is for less money, but would keep the team in Phoenix… or so they say. This is a con job: I bet this team will not be playing in Phoenix five years from now.

Mr. Balsillie was blocked previously from buying the Pittsburgh team and moving it to Hamilton, Ontario. In that case, he withdrew his purchase offer after the NHL imposed a long list of last-minute conditions, including a seven-year non-relocation clause—an obvious ploy to avoid outright rejection of his bid.

I can draw this conclusion: since Canadian-based NHL teams have been relocated from Canada to the United States, and since several U.S.-based teams have been relocated within the United States, relocation is acceptable so long as it is not to Canada.

Current owners of Canadian-based NHL teams must feel very proud of themselves.

As to the commissioner, Gary Bettman, this is about what we have come to expected. His anti-Canada bias has surfaced before and, undoubtedly will again.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. Bettman (unaffectionately called "The Count" by the Bobcat on AM590...after the Seasame Street character) has bet his legacy on the success of the NHL in the US.

    Any movement of teams from the US to Canada further chip away at his already crumbling legacy.

    That being said, Balsillie literally did the poker equivalent of "all in" when trying the hostile takeover method of trying to become a NHL owner.

    Because now, At the end of the day the NHL owners now know that while they've dodged this bullet, its only a matter of when and not if there'll be a 2nd franchise in Southern Ontario.

    I suspect that before another US franchise finds itself on the brink of financial destruction, the NHL will already have some kind of strategy in place to have a 2nd team in Southern Ontario, most likely through expansion, where all the NHL owners can get their proportional piece of the action.

    As one of the NHL owners said off-record, if a 2nd NHL franchise could be located in Southern Ontario for $220 million (Balsillie's bid), he's sell his existing original 6 franchise today and pay cash for the new 905/416 address.

    Fact of the matter is another NHL franchise in the 416/905 will automatically become one of the most finacially valuable franchises in the NHL literally from Day 1. And for that jewel, the existing NHL owners expect to get compensated.

    In the end, the fact there was no compensation for existing NHL owners is what killed the Balsillie move.

  2. TDA, as usual, your point is dead on.