SBD/Issue 15/Franchises

Jim Balsillie Giving Up NHL Pursuits To Focus On RIM Business

Balsillie Will Focus On RIM
Business, Step Back From NHL
A spokesperson for Jim Balsillie said that the RIM co-CEO is "stepping back" from his NHL pursuits to "focus on his" RIM business, according to a front-page piece by Ken Peters of the HAMILTON SPECTATOR. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum Wednesday rejected Balsillie's bid for the Coyotes, following previous unsuccessful attempts to acquire the Penguins and Predators, and Univ. of Toronto's Rotman School of Management Dean Richard Powers said that "it's three strikes and out for Balsillie." Powers: "As long as [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman is there." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that while the league has "interest in the Hamilton market," it is "not planning to make any moves." Daly: "We are always interested in areas and markets that are excited to support NHL hockey. And we have little doubt that Hamilton is one of them. Hamilton and the southern Ontario region will continue to be on our radar screen, but we remain committed to our current markets." Balsillie's lease agreement for Copps Coliseum is set to expire later this month, and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger noted that "once that happens, he will begin working the phones in a bid to attract another NHL suitor." Eisenberger: "There have been other suitors we have had discussions with. We know there is interest and we will continue to pursue that interest" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 10/2).

BACK ON THE ICE: Ice Edge Holdings Thursday said that it will approach the NHL if and when the league "gains control of the franchise." Ice Edge pulled out of the bidding for the Coyotes last month, but the bid group's COO Daryl Jones said, "We are definitely interested in purchasing the team from them." He added, "We really can't do anything until they get awarded the team, or until they officially buy the team." Ice Edge was unable to reach an agreement with Glendale on a new lease for Arena, but Jones Thursday said, "We're really close with the city, in terms of being where we want to be" (NATIONAL POST, 10/2). Daly Thursday in an e-mail said, "We're confident that there will be buyers for this club that want to operate it in Phoenix. ... There is no immediate time frame. We are still digesting the court's opinion and evaluating our options." When asked if Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf may make another bid for the club, Daly said, "(The sale) may or may not involve someone who has already looked at purchasing the team." Daly said that the current Coyotes management "stays in place and can continue to make moves." The Coyotes Wednesday night held a reception for season-ticket holders, and President & COO Doug Moss said, "We had 600 people in the concourse and there was an electricity in the building" (USA TODAY, 10/2).

Writer Says Coyotes' On-Ice Performance
Is Hurting The Franchise The Most
BAD MOON RISING? In Phoenix, Justin Bourne writes under the header, "On-Ice Product Haunts Coyotes." If the team does not "make major personnel moves, they're going to stink again" this season. It is "no wonder fans, media and sponsors can't find their way to the rink." Bourne: "The problem isn't the lease in Glendale, or Jim Balsillie's obsession. ... Being awful every year is what's killing it" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes lost amid the "embarrassing revelations" from the Coyotes' bankruptcy case is that the NHL "isn't necessarily doomed to more of the same, or at least it isn't if some visionary leadership quickly materializes." The NHL needs to "acknowledge reality, turn the ship around, and there won't be another Phoenix fiasco" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2). However, a TORONTO STAR editorial states the "real losers" in this case are "Canadian hockey fans -- particularly those in southern Ontario -- who have been deprived once again of another team in this hockey-mad market." Teams are "being maintained in American markets where professional hockey ranks somewhere behind poker as a spectator sport -- not just Phoenix but also cities like Nashville and Atlanta" (TORONTO STAR, 10/2).

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