Touché Mr. Balsillie

By | Aug 20, 2009

It’s not news that Jim Balsillie wants a hockey team.  After attempts to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins several years back (which was approved by the league, except for his desire to move them to Hamilton, Ontario) as well as the Nashville Predators (same story), he is now trying to get his hands on the Phoenix Coyotes, again with the attention of moving them to Hamilton.  That particular team is bankrupt, looking for a new owner and the whole thing has gone to public auction.

The blackberry owner is willing to put alot of money into his bid.  Last number I heard was around the $230 million range, which was about a million more than the next guy.  Trouble is, the NHL – at least its commissioner Gary Bettman – doesn’t want Balsillie as an owner.  They want to keep tight control over who is allowed into the small group of owners (which to me seems like bad, monopolistic business).  It’s not entirely clear if this is because of real concerns, or if we are simply witnessing personal grudges and a clash of character coming into effect.  However, the court battles have been quite amusing.

Recently, the NHL was taking shots at Jim Balsillie’s character in order to gain an upper hand over him in court.   However, Balsillie took none of it.  According to reports, Balsillie pointed out that out of the current owners, a number of them are convicted felons.  One gentleman has done prison time for fraud, another one forged financial documents, and another has been fined under Canadian Securities Act.

This isn’t exactly the high ground – it’s kindergarten like name calling.  However, this case has been quite amusing, and I draw everyone’s attention to it.  Does talent + success = maturity regression?  It seems so.   However,  Balsillie seems to look better in every round of this arguement, so it might be time for the NHL to simply cut its losses, let the guy in, and find a cloth to wipe the egg off their collective faces.

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