Tue Aug 25 10:59am EDT
Three points of order in the ongoing Jim Balsillie/NHL court drama that continues to roll towards a dramatic Sept. 10 auction that will determine the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes for about 23 seconds before the first appeal is filed:
1. Balsillie filed another proposal yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that declared he can walk away from the deal if the whole thing isn't settled by Sept. 14; which is, as the AP notes, "four days after the scheduled auction of the team and one day before the Coyotes are to play their first preseason game."
Not that it makes any sense, because the NHL will appeal in a heartbeat should Balsillie win the day. And because there is simply zero, zippy, nada chance that the Coyotes play in Hamilton this season.
But he's got one shot at this, and it's through his offer being the best to soothe the creditors -- something Judge Redfield T. Baum has hinted is, in fact, the case. So perhaps placing an expiration date on his offer is an attempt to force a total victory in judgment, lest any loose strings trigger this "deadline." Which is why this is also part of the motion, from the AP:
Balsillie's proposed purchase agreement requires either NHL approval of the sale or a court order superseding the owners' rejection of him. It also requires the league to come up with a relocation fee. If the NHL doesn't, Balsillie says the court should determine a "reasonable and appropriate" figure. The league says relocation is moot because Balsillie has been rejected as an owner.
Pretty easy to see what Balsillie's hoping for here: Judge rules for Balsillie's bid; judge supersedes NHL decision based on its 2006 approval of Balsillie as an owner; NHL is forced to name a relocation fee; Balsillie's like, "Hey, that's pocket change for me! Sold!"
At least, that's what they're hoping.
2. Speaking of his approval as an owner a few years back, Hockey Plumber takes a look at how Balsillie's behavior through his three attempts to relocate NHL franchises as, in fact, tarnished his reputation to the point where his rejection by the League is understandable.
3. Finally, writer Lloyd Duhaime has a really remarkable piece called "H for Hypocrisy: The National Hockey League's Sub Judice Gambit" that attacks the NHL's tactics in the case and the media's compliance with the League's campaign. (Sub Judice being "a matter that is still under consideration by a court; still subject to active litigation.")
By impetuously making a board decision even while judicial proceedings are ongoing in Phoenix, it appears that what the NHL owners really want is the relocation fee which would be there's (sic) but for an annoying American bankruptcy court; a fee they could suck from one very rich hockey-loving Canadian.
But to reflect on his character and integrity in that regard is to either be unaware of the culture of big money business - highly unlikely given the money behind the NHL - or to seek to interfere with ongoing legal proceedings and a Phoenix, Arizona judge, through a gullible or willing sports media.
We'd argue that the League is more interested in an expansion fee rather than a relocation fee. But it's an interesting piece with regard to the PR assault on Balsillie as legal proceedings continue.
Balsillie's not out of this fight yet. Remember his core argument from the last round of rulings:
"We think Jim Balsillie's bid will emerge the winner because it offers the best financial terms ..."
And it does. But he needs the court to agree with Duhaime that the NHL's rejection of his bid on the basis of character is wrong to the point where its bylaws need to be overruled by the court.
Is the judge willing to go that far in a ruling?