Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Will NHL Call Balsillie's Bluff?

1) The latest twist in the ever changing story of the Coyote franchise legal tussle, the judge who is in charge of the bankruptcy hearing stated yesterday that the NHL has the right to enforce a 'transfer fee' on Jim Balsillie IF he is awarded the franchise. The NHL tried to avoid this issue by saying they didn't have sufficient time to come up with a number, but the judge, holding firm, stated that they had better expedite their numbers and come back to him with what they feel would be appropriate.

2) This puts both parties into an interesting position. The NHL wants NO part of this at all. IF they decide to charge a huge sum (many say 100 million) for Balsillie to move to Hamilton, what if Jim accepts? The NHL would have no legal means to stop the movement in that case. They set the price, and the other party agreed, etc. On the other side, does Balsillie want to fork over an additional 100 or so million? He already has offered WAY more (215 million) than any other interested party for the team. He has professed to wanting to spend millions more to upgrade the 25 year old Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. Would he also be willing to pay an additional fee?

3) So it may come down to whether Balsillie will call the NHL's bluff, or vise versa. In our opinion he would begrudgingly accept a relocation fee of 100 million. It will be interesting to see what happens IF the NHL tries to make an offer that they feel Balsillie won't accept. Lets say asking for 250 million. Would the judge rule it was exorbitant? If so, can/would the judge be able to set a reasonable price?

4) The only thing(s) that are certain are that regardless of how the judge decides:

  • The legal wrangling won't end here-Appeals are all but certain. Especially if the NHL loses, you can be sure Bettman/Daly will fight to prevent Balsillie from moving the team on anything but their terms! It would open up a HUGE can of worms that would make the previous battles with the NHLPA appear peaceful. The dirty little secret is that there are FAR more issues within the various owners than between the players and the NHL.

  • The Coyotes are a 'Dead team Walking'. We can not see an option that keeps them in Phoenix beyond next season. No matter who ultimately ends up owning the team they will leave for greener pastures. Whether it be this fall with Balsillie, or next fall with another un names owner(s). White knuckle time for Gary, no doubt!

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