In an apparent attempt to apply pressure the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and more specifically presiding Judge Redfield T. Baum to rule in his favor, Jim Balsillie has submitted an amended proposal to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes. The amended proposal sets a deadline of September 14th for Judge Baum to accept Balsillie’s bid of $212.5 million for the team. He also asks that Judge Baum disregard the NHL Board of Governor’s recent 26 – 0 vote rejecting Ballsillie’s ownership application and to allow Balsillie to move the franchise to Hamilton immediately.
I for one am getting real tired of Balsillie. When he originally was attempting to purchase the Penguins and subsequently the Predators and move them to Canada, I was all for it. I thought of Balsillie in the same light as I do the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a pain and an annoyance to most but still good for the game. There is nothing wrong with being an involved and passionate owner. Subtracting a U.S. team from a weak market and taking it back to Canada wouldn’t hurt my feelings or pride as an American. Unfortunately Balsillie doesn’t seem to care about the rules and processes that it would take to become an owner the traditional way. Instead he wants to use every trick in the book including a public relations campaign designed to lower the value of a franchise (as he apparently did in Nashville).
Now he is altering his original proposal to pressure a judge into overruling the NHL and allowing him to buy and then move the Phoenix franchise because he couldn’t get what he wanted the proper way. Basically he is saying that if he can’t get what he wants then he’ll pick up his toys and go home. I’ve got a message for Mr. Balsillie: Hit the Bricks Bud!
How does he expect the NHL to react when he has not shown willingness to play by their rules? If he wants to join their club then he is going to have to abide by their rules, even if they aren’t fair or just. Instead he has elected to try to strong-arm the league and he has selected Judge Baum to be his weapon. I see no way now that Judge Baum will rule in his favor. As intelligent a businessman as Balsillie is purported to be, I don’t understand how he thought that this tactic would be successful. I’m not even a party to this from the perspective that I am not a Coyotes fan a Canadian citizen, Judge Baum or another NHL owner but Balsillie’s actions have annoyed me.
In fact, I wonder if this is just Balsillie trying to save face in front of the citizens of Hamilton and Canadians everywhere. He must know that there is almost no way that Judge Baum will rule in his favor and basically spit in the face of the NHL by doing so. Maybe by doing this he is putting himself in position to tell the people of Hamilton “hey, I tried my best but the League is conspiring against me and doesn’t want another Canadian team.” That way he can look like a hero still and deflect attention from some of the shady tactics he is alleged to have used.
It should speak volumes when Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators, speaks up and denounces Balsillie’s attempts to purchase a team and move it to Canada. Melnyk himself is a Canadian and purchased the Ottawa Senators out of bankruptcy to ensure that they were not sold and moved to the U.S. It would appear that Melnyk has the best interests of hockey in Canada at heart. He is now on record though as saying, "I clearly believe the sport of hockey is better off without him," which was a quote from a statement made by Melnyk in response to allegations made by Balsillie about the NHL’s not taking into account the character of other potential owners. Melnyk took exception to the implication (whether direct or not) that Melnyk’s character was questionable. Melnyk went on to say, "I will say in response publicly that his willingness to drag down anyone he can get his hands on along with him is discouraging and saddens me,” said Melnyk.
It should be pretty obvious to all that Mr. Balsillie has no chance of winning either the battle or the war. Instead of acting like a petulant child he should walk away from these proceedings with as much grace as possible in this situation. Mr. Balsillie, I implore you, just go away.