SBD/Issue 232/Franchises

Balsillie In Filing Contends NHL Has Allowed Criminal Owners

Balsillie Challenges NHL
On Character Ruling
RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie yesterday in a document filed in bankruptcy court said the NHL has "long tolerated, indicted and even convicted criminals among its ranks," disputing the argument that his potential ownership of the Coyotes should be "rejected by the league for lacking 'good character and integrity,'" according to Paul Hunter of the TORONTO STAR. Balsillie's contention is that "moral grounds and questions of character have never been used 'in the entire history of the NHL to reject any applicant.'" Balsillie in the filing "fired darts at NHL executives," including Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk, MSG Exec Chair James Dolan and Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf. Balsillie noted that Reinsdorf in '90 sued the NBA over "how many of his Bulls games were being televised," but now Reinsdorf is the NHL's "preferred purchaser of the Coyotes." Also, Dolan in '07 sued the NHL over team Web site control but was "not asked by the league to remove himself as an owner." Balsillie also pointed out Melnyk recently "reached a settlement with the Ontario Securities commissioner for alleged violations of the Canadian Securities Act" (TORONTO STAR, 8/20). Balsillie's filing states, "The NHL may not 'like' Mr. Balsillie but that is not a basis for rejecting him as being morally unfit to become an NHL owner" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/20).

AGREE TO DISAGREE: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reports the NHL and Balsillie yesterday reached a partial agreement that will allow Balsillie's attorney, Richard Rodier, to "attend today's deposition of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and tomorrow's grilling of deputy commissioner Bill Daly." But the NHL "refused a request for Rodier to sit in on its questioning of Balsillie next week," and that decision will be up to Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum. Baum also will "have to decide which e-mail messages and other documents" between Rodier, Balsillie and Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes "have to be turned over to the NHL." The various parties over the past three days have filed more than 60 documents, "some as long as 100 pages." Meanwhile, Research Edge LLC Managing Dir Daryl Jones, who serves as COO of Ice Edge Holdings' bid for the Coyotes, said that he is "confident they will meet Tuesday's deadline for NHL-approved bids to be filed with the court" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/20).

JET LAGGED: In a front-page piece for the HAMILTON SPECTATOR, Ken Peters notes Daly Tuesday in a court filing argued that "any court directive that would force the Coyotes to play in Hamilton this season would disrupt the other 29 clubs' ticket sales and marketing, potentially breach contracts with broadcasters and 'severely damage' each club's relationship with fans." Daly noted that the '09-10 NHL schedule has teams playing the Coyotes in a "back-to-back situation 21 times." The opponents in those games would be "forced to travel an additional 24,446 miles if their away games against the Coyotes were played in Hamilton instead of Glendale" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/20).

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