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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