We’ve all heard it by now: The Coyotes’ owner has filed for bankruptcy and, in response, the NHL has exercised the clause in their loan agreement that allows them to assume control of the team. Jim Balsillie has put forth an overpay of an offer (US$212.5Million) with a stipulation that he gets to immediately move the team to Hamilton before the ink’s even dry on the bill of sale.
Ugh. This is all going to be just chock full of Bad Craziness. Nationalistic lines have been drawn; Fans from Canada and the northern US are clamouring for every franchise south of 39° 43′ 20″ N be ripped up and moved or contracted outright, branded as “a failure”. Phoenix fans and the NHL are digging in for some serious trench warfare. Phoenix is being held up as an example of everything that is wrong with the wave of southern expansion that started under John Ziegler and continued under Gary Bettman; I disagree with this.
Is Phoenix as a franchise in trouble? Yes. It’s sad, but true; the ‘Yotes are in serious trouble and may not survive much longer in Phoenix. But does it mean that southern expansion is a complete failure? Tampa, Carolina, and Anaheim would definitely beg to differ. Atlanta, Nashville, and Florida would beg to differ too–their travails are no different from what the Islanders, Blackhawks, Bruins, and even the Sabres have (or in the case of the Bruins and Sabres, had) to deal with; bad management that’s more interested in profit over results (or, if you’re the Sabres, a crook for an owner–see “Rigas, John”), and crap seasons that have driven all but the most die-hard of die-hards away. And yet, because of their geographical location, Atlanta, Nashville, and Florida are regularly targeted as “failures” and calls are made to move them.
Which brings us to Jim Balsillie, who apparently feels that he can do whatever he wants because half the planet has a Crackberry. I’ve ranted in the past that he should be allowed to be an owner; I still think that he should be allowed to be an owner, because I think that in the long run an enthusiastic owner will be good for the NHL.
HOWEVER: The Forms Must Be Obeyed. I get that he wants to give a team to the folks in Hamilton, and I am OK with that. But it’s not going to get done by trying to do an end run around the NHL and trying to use bankruptcy proceedings to force a sale. It’s not going to get done by putting up a website and holding press conferences and fighting with the rest of the owners to try to force his way in. That’s my issue with the guy. Yes, he’s been honest about what he wants to do with any team that he buys, Cup-winner status be damned. But Jim Balsillie has got to learn to work with the NHL rather than against the NHL.
As for the Coyotes? *sigh* If they absolutely have to move, then I think that they need to go right back up to the ‘Peg rather than to Hamilton. It would be the right thing to do.
Conspiracy. or Incompetence? You be the judge — Tennessean.com
Well isn’t this a fine kettle of fish? The NHL is so hell-bent on not allowing Jim Balsillie to have a team, that they’re willing to give a team to the second coming of John Spano.
Yep, it turns out that “Boots” DelBiaggio (who makes me ashamed as hell to be Italian) is…well, let’s be blunt: he’s a full-force foursquare fraud. Does he have money? NO. So what’d he do? Borrow money from the outgoing owner of the Predators (one Craig Leipold, who now owns the Minnesota Wild) and the owners of the Los Angeles Kings (that would be Peter Anschutz’s Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)). Not only that, but the League decided not to perform the “required” due diligence to make sure that the unctuous little bastard actually had the cash to hand to be able to run the team.
As much as I dislike the smarmy git, I am starting to get in line with NHLPA boss Paul Kelly: give Jim Balsillie a team. Seriously. He may be a douche, but at least he’s been up front about wanting to buy an existing team, gut it, drive away all the fans and drive down the team’s value so that he can yank it up and put it in freakin’ Hamilton. We know that’s what his game is, because he’s made no secret of it. But the owners–not the Commissioner, but the owners who put him in charge and keep him in charge–are so against this guy getting involved that they’re willing to approve sales to people of questionable financial stature just to keep him away.
Let’s just avoid future dramaz–just give Jim Balsillie any team without a Cup under its belt and let’s just get it the hell over with, because in the long run he’ll be a far better owner than “Boots”.
Thank the gods for that, too. This will give us some stability in goal, which will help immensely. I just hope that they don’t suddenly decide to start fighting again.
In other news: Salaries are higher now than they were pre-Ragnarok. WTF? Frakkin’ hell people, why did we have a lockout in the first freakin’ place?
Hairy Gelrose to replace Fidel Tortorella as Lightning Coach – Toronto Star by way of TSN
The Leafs fans on TSN, of course, are hoping that Tortorella comes to coach the Leafs–boy, won’t they be in for a shock when they realize after the first season and a half that Fidel is a coach whose half-life is measured in Planck Time. I mean, really. His harsh uber-disciplinarian style has a distressing tendency to grate on the players, and after a while all but the most fanatical will simply stop listening to him go on and on and on about La Revolucion Gloriosa because they just flat aren’t interested anymore.
Mind you though, they were all over having Chairman Mo as their coach three seasons ago, and look at how that turned out–there’s just no telling those Leafs fans anything, I guess.
Anyway, about MulletMan–sure, the guy took the Kings to the Finals in 93 (where they choked a series lead to the Habs, who SUCK…just sayin’), but aside from that he has done bobkes except for sit and rap about hockey for Bristol. Sure, The President of the Show may be a buddy of his, but c’mon; I am really not seeing that this is an upgrade coaching-wise for the Lightning.
Future Owner Oren Koules (who shall henceforth known in this space as FOOK) is reportedly barracking for this sea change in order to sell hockey in a market where home games already sell out much of the time–which just tells me that dudeman has his head up his ass even more than I originally thought, given that Tampa is currently 8th in the League in attendance.
Sorry Lightning fans–expect more rough seas ahead, but be glad…at least you’re not playing at the Trop anymore.
I see nothing good coming of this, to be honest. What’s he going to do, get a team of “advisors” together to tell him how he should run the team?
Actually, that’s a little unfair–unlike Richard Gordon, the Great Leader does know something about hockey, so I don’t think that he’ll be getting tennis players and futbol stars around him to help him run the team into the ground. But this whole thing just has a strong (indeed, distressing) air of Bad Craziness. Not a move (sorry to disappoint you, the 13th of April Movement), but definitely problems.
Every time that Pete Karmanos has meddled (and to me, it’s meddling when an owner gets involved in day-to-day ops like this) in the affairs of the Hurricanes, it has either not gone well OR a bad and distracting situation has just been dragged out even longer than it needed to be (see “Holdout: Primeau, Keith”) because of the man’s tendency to let his temper get the better of him and his equally upsetting (to me) tendency to run his mouth without regard for the wisdom (or lack thereof) of such things. I forsee little if any good coming of this, and that does not make me a happy camper at all. If he were more an easygoing big-picture Ted Leonsis kinda guy, then I wouldn’t have a problem. But PK? Umm…no.
Colour me the Loyal Opposition…of course, when have I ever pretended to be anything but?
In other news:
Jim Rutherford was named to the NHL’s new goaltender equipment working group, along with fellow GMs Doug Risebrough, Garth Snow, and (of ALL people) Brett Hull.
I can’t be the only one that sees the double-shot of irony in this. I mean, really.
(title courtesy Shadow Warrior)
Ladies and gents, I think we’ve found the worst NHL owner since Richard Gordon–and his name is Charles Wang.
For those who have been under a rock for the last week, here’s a quick recap:
Islanders owner Charles Wang fired GM Neil Smith. Two hours later, he announced the hiring of Islanders backup goaltender Garth Snow as the new GM. Three hours after THAT, Pat LaFontaine resigned his post as advisor to Charles Wang–and, according to Bristolero EJ Hradek, did it largely because Wang blew off his advice to 1) give Smith more time on the job before pulling the trigger, OR 2) wait a while (i.e. longer than two hours) before naming a new GM. Wang then went on WFAN’s “Mike and the Mad Dog” show in an attempt to defend the indefensible, and wound up admitting two things: He doesn’t know dick about hockey (which, I guess, at least makes him better than Richard Gordon), he seriously believes that he can run a pro sports franchise like it’s just another business, and that it is (in his opinion) a great idea to have manglement by committee–despite the fact that such a model has NEVER worked in the history of professional sports.
The only one untouched by this, so far, is Isles’ coach Ted Nolan–who is very wisely saying what amounts to “Don’t ask me man, I just work here”–but I suspect that right around the All-Star Break, Citoyen Wangspierre will send him to the guillotine, too.
Seriously, I’m askin’ here.