Monday, September 15, 2008

Reasons Players Distrust The owners?

1) During the last Bettman lockout one of the refrains little ole Gary liked to use was that the salary cap was needed to make cost certainty, help control ticket prices, and the last was what gave many of us a good belly laugh- 'We need to bring the players into a partnership with the owners'. To an outsider that would either sounds like flowery language (bullshit) or a noble idea. At the time(and now) we believed that this was all a smoke screen to get the salary cap. Now, we're not going to go into that here, but we do want to touch on the concept that the players and owners are indeed 'partners' now that there is a salary cap

2) Back then we asked should/can the players as a group trust the owners and Bettman? We cited instance after instance of business corruption of so many current and past NHL owners, that it almost seemed to be policy/a requirement for membership to be an NHL owner. Folks who at the time were blindly anti-player would throw out the instances where players were in trouble with the law such as the Heatley incident or the all too common domestic violence issues. However then as now we would argue that this is a clear case of apples and oranges. Those offenses by the players have ZERO to do with their association with the owners. While it can be argued that if someone is running their business illegally they probably aren't too trust worthy with regard to other business practices, and we would think twice before becoming business 'partners' with such people.

3) This issue really came to ahead recently when yet another owner Boots Delbaggio was found to be yet another John Spano. Someone who apparently was able to dupe Gary Bettman into believing he was a rich investor trying to buy an NHL team. It was with this latest Bettman fiasco that we decided to see if our perception that there seemed to be an inordinate of current/former NHL owners who have been in trouble was reality or not. So we decided to do a search, and this is what we came up with. You decide if it shows a disturbing trend, or is a coincidence.

4) Here is a list of the folks (we could find) and a short description of their transgression:

  • Harold Ballard- His cantankerous, eccentric ways, his talent for alienating players, and his general contempt for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans, Harold Ballard goes down as possibly the worst NHL owner of all time.(The recently departed William Wirtz would give him a run for his money) He turned a marquee NHL franchises into the most poorly run operation in professional sport. He was found guilty of 48 charges of theft and fraud involving the misuse of $205,000 – including $82,000 of Gardens money used to remodel his home.

  • Bruce McNall- celebrated sports owner from L.A.--the young entrepreneur who had bought the Kings and brought Wayne Gretzky west; the extravagant spender with a fleet of private jets and helicopters--busted for defrauding banks of more than $200 million.

  • Henry Samueli of the Anaheim Ducks, has signed off on a plea deal that will see him get five years probation and $12.2 million in fines and penalties for lying to federal investigators who were looking into a scheme that tied him to an options backdating scandal in his company, Broadband.

  • Michael Largue, a self-described investment banker from Uniondale, L.I., almost became Spano # 2. He had been putting out word that he wanted to buy a professional hockey team. In an effort to buy the Islanders he met with the N.H.L.'s commissioner, Gary Bettman, and told him he was looking to buy a team and that he was backed by a wealthy Swiss businessman. Later he went to Edmonton to buy that then-ailing franchise. He got a tour of the Oilers' arena, collected a few autographed goalie sticks and had dinner with the mayor. He announced that a deal was imminent, until a back ground check didn't jive with what he told the press. He later was convicted of grand larceny among many offenses since then. The perfect NHL owner eh?

  • Eugene Melnyk- Owner of the popular Bert’s Bar located in Barbados and the National Hockey League Senators has been charged by regulators in Canada for accounting fraud. Melnyk and three executives of the company Biovail Corporation have been charged for misleading investors about the pharmaceutical company’s financial results

  • John and Tim Rigas of Adelphia Communications. Not long after they were approved, the two were convicted of fraud in federal court regarding billions in off-the-books loans, a ruling that plunged both Adelphia and the Buffalo Sabres into bankruptcy, and put both Rigas in jail.

  • San Jay Kumar/ Charles Wang- One is a former co-owner of the Islanders along with his former Computer Associates colleague Charles Wang. Kumar pleaded guilty to securities fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice charges related to his role a $2.2 billion accounting scheme at the computer software company. Until recently Wang appeared to be in the clear. Now he is being looked into this as well. Sanjay Kumar alleges his former mentor "personally directed" improper accounting at the company going back to 1987, and that several longtime board members "took steps to protect Wang and conceal the facts." This could get interesting!

  • Eddie Debartolo: In 1981, The DeBartolo Corporation purchased the NHL's Penguins. In 1998 Eddie DeBartolo Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony charge of failing to report that Louisiana's former governor allegedly extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license.

  • William ''Boots'' Del Biaggio III: (see above) An investment firm is accusing the San Jose socialite and investor of using false claims and bogus documents to scam it out of $3 million in a loan deal, according to a lawsuit filed this year in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The lawsuit provides the first public details of alleged improper business dealings that have prompted a federal probe of Del Biaggio, a 40-year-old financier who until recently was a new part owner of the Nashville Predators

  • John Spano- (See above) He gained the NHL's blessing to buy the New York Islanders for $165 million by claiming he was worth $230 million. Truth was, Spano lied about pretty much every aspect of his financial portfolio, claiming to have a trust, established by a relative, worth $107 million, and he forged numerous records in a successful bid to dupe various bankers and lawyers. In 2000 he was sentenced to over five years in jail.

5) To think that Ed Snider’s, owner of the Flyers, during the last lockout had this reaction to the NHLPA’s "outrageous" suggestion that NHL owners might be less than trustworthy. Some say he went ballistic before claiming that NHL owners were “just a bunch of honest businessmen”. We'll allow our readers to decide that question, but if we were the players and their association representation we'd be wary before making any agreements tat would make us 'partners' with such folks as these! You sleep with dogs and you get fleas!

1 comment:

czechmate said...

I wonder if Wayne Gretzky still owns part of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL... He, McNall and John Candy, I believe, were partners in that one...

Come across any info there Faux?

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